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Wednesday, 03 February 2016 12:57

SINGAPORE | Three Reminders About Expat Health Insurance

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According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, the number one reason for hospital admittance is accidents (www.moh.gov.sg), and unexpected treatment does not come cheap.

Private hospital stays in Singapore average $500 per night and should you be admitted to the ICU, you are looking upwards of $600-$900 per night for the room charges alone before including any treatment costs. This is why we buy medical insurance: to protect ourselves from the financial burden of hefty hospital bills when life throws us a curve ball. Whether it is illness, a condition, an accident or emergency, you want to know that you and your family have access to quality medical care, regardless of cost.

Ensure your medical plan protects you and your family while you are living abroad


As expats living abroad, we tend to place extra importance on safety and protection. Extended family and other support networks are far away, and many can no longer use their home country’s public health benefits. Knowing you have medical insurance that provides adequate coverage is one important factor that can help you feel at ease.

In Singapore there are more than a dozen providers of medical insurance, each with a plethora of different products. Every product then has a complicated policy wording attached to it that outlines exact benefits and exclusions in legal language. Knowing how and where to begin the search for the right policy often leaves one baffled and discourages immediate action.

One of the key aspects is to determine your level of coverage comfort zone: basic, medium or comprehensive. In Singapore, a basic policy will cover hospitalization and inpatient costs including surgery. The next tier will usually cover outpatient services (GP), but exclude specialists and restrict you to a specific list of local primary care doctors. Comprehensive plans typically cover all your medical expenses and will rarely leave you out-of-pocket by reimbursing costs for specialists, dental, maternity, physiotherapy and/or routine screenings.

While healthy, one rarely considers the possibility of falling critically ill, especially if family history shows no cause for concern. The Cancer Research UK (www.cancerresearchuk.org) states that up to 1 in 20 (5%) cancers are caused by an inherited faulty gene, meaning that most cancer cases occurred in people with little to no family history of the condition. The treatment costs for such unpredictable discoveries can be exorbitant. You need to know if you are adequately protected should you be diagnosed with a critical illness or require long-term treatment. If you are underinsured, the bill will fall to you for payment once your expense limits are exhausted.

Within your medical policy, your Advisor will point out any hidden exclusions that will leave you vulnerable to large uncovered medical expenses. The most common exclusion is pre-existing conditions. Depending on the type of condition and severity, insurers may offer to include the condition by charging additional premium. In many cases, this additional charge is less than if you were to bear the costs of the condition out of pocket.

 

Family Planning Considerations


Singapore is an ideal location to welcome a baby to the family. Healthcare institutions and physicians are considered some of the best in the world and there are numerous support groups for mothers. With great facilities, the cost of delivering a baby can be high. Medical expenses for each pregnancy typically range between $10,000-$14,000 for a natural delivery and $12,500-$16,000 for caesarean. As Maternity Insurance cannot be purchased on its own as a separate insurance policy, your Advisor will show you how to select it as a benefit extension attached to your main health insurance policy.

 

One Plan Doesn’t Necessarily Suit All


For families, keep in mind that it is not necessary to put all members on the same plan or with the same insurer. The employed spouse may just need a top-up plan because work provides basic cover, the other spouse may have a pre-existing condition best served by another policy, and while the kids are healthy, they tend to frequent the doctor’s office for minor accidents and illnesses.

 

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