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Thursday, 23 June 2016 12:06

SINGAPORE | Factors to Consider Before Buying Health Insurance

The days of big benefit, company-sponsored health insurance packages are over as companies focus on cost-cutting and the profile of an expat continues to transform. Many expats find they are now on local plans with limited coverage and no medical benefits for family members.

Others whom leave corporate life to start their own ventures find themselves responsible for arranging private insurance or medical benefit programs for their employees as they expand. Regardless of your situation, you need to understand your health insurance to protect your family from large out-of-pocket expenses.

Treatment costs in Singapore:

• Broken nose: $5,500 at A&E
• 14-day course of antibiotics: $150-$320 (excluding consult fees)
• Pregnancy & Delivery: $12,000-$20,000 (depending on natural or caesarean birth)
• One night in private hospital, standard room: $610 (unless of course you opt for the Luxury Suite at a hefty $8,000)

Most of us have purchased some form of insurance privately, be it Health, Travel, Home, Motor or Life, and we are familiar with a table of benefits, on a tiered-pricing scale of options (general format is Basic, Medium and Comprehensive cover). 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 will typically cover all your medical expenses in the year and will rarely leave you out-of-pocket; reimbursing costs for specialists, dental, maternity, physiotherapy and routine screenings. Deciding what plan is best for you may seem straightforward at this stage, but with health insurance there are other factors to consider before buying.

As the famous saying goes, Location, Location, Location! In insurance terms, this means deciding between a Singapore-only plan and worldwide coverage. If you want to be treated in your home country for illness, you need to consider a global plan including or excluding USA. For those with probability of another posting elsewhere in the future, you can get a plan that is portable and can follow you to your next location.

In Singapore, we immerse ourselves in the culture, food and local lifestyle with ease. When it comes to medical treatment, however, many of us still prefer to see doctors whom share our home culture. Be mindful that some plans restrict you to government hospitals and public clinics (polyclinics) only. If you would like to decide who you see for treatment, make sure your plan allows freedom of choice and is not on a referral-only basis.

For couples and young families looking to have a baby, maternity benefits are generally subject to a 12-24 month waiting period, so you must purchase well in advance of pregnancy. If a baby is already on the way, there are plans that provide coverage for the newborn from day one.

In most cases pre-existing medical conditions will need to be addressed as this may affect your premium and coverage. It’s different with every insurer. If you have a pre-existing condition, speak to an insurance advisor who can find an insurer with favorable terms for your specific condition.

For families, keep in mind that it’s 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, little ones rack-up big bills with one cold or another in this weather. While many expats don’t think twice about health insurance because they’re covered by their company, the devil’s in the details! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Article Kindly Sponsored by Expat Insurance 

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