Medical insurance is something that can be ludicrously confusing. There are so many acronyms to remember and so much terminology that a normal person wouldn’t understand at first glance. In the early stages of your life, insurance is not such a headache. Your parents will handle it, and you’re too healthy to be worried about a “minor” injury.
However, when age catches up with you, medical insurance becomes your best friend. Even if you walk and stay healthy every day, it’s better to be prepared. So, why not get a head start and ensure that your health in the twilight years is secured?
Medical Costs In Singapore
Before we get started, let’s take a look at the medical costs in Singapore. Do you know what Singapore’s average hospital bill is? Well, it varies by what the cause is. If you’re looking for a specific one, search here. Singapore actually keeps records of the average bill of each hospital, here. You can skim through yourself if you want to get the costs for specific hospitals, but overall (for public hospitals), the average price for hospitalisation across Singapore is $6306.14.
That’s quite a hefty sum of money to fork out. However, do note that this is a very general amount, as it takes into account every type of surgery or treatment. Naturally, major surgeries will be higher, so watch out! Hospitalisation insurance in Singapore is essential to bring down your hospital bill in Singapore.
Let’s start off with the one that (almost) everyone has: MediSave. So, what is it exactly? Basically, it is a mandatory national medical savings scheme. It sets aside a portion of your salary to put into your MediSave Account. MediSave can be used at all public healthcare institutions, approved private hospitals and medical institutions. It can be used for your (or your immediate family’s) hospitalisation and surgery, as well as certain outpatient expenses, such as dialysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and various chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. The full list can be found here.
For each day of hospitalisation, you (or an immediate family member) are entitled to a maximum of $450 for daily hospital charges. For surgery costs, here is a chart documenting how much of it can be paid via MediSave. To find out which category your surgery falls under, visit here.
For those aged 40 and above, MediSave can also pay the premiums for ElderShield and ElderShield Supplements.
ElderShield is meant to protect the elderly from potentially catastrophic long-term costs. In case of a severe disability, they are entitled to a monthly cash payout of $300 or $400 for up to 5 to 6 months (depending on when they signed up). Visit the MOH website for more info.
It’s important to note that MediSave cannot be used for cosmetic surgery and non-medical treatments such as ambulance transport.
Let’s break down MediShield Life into bite-sized pieces. It’s actually confusing if you try to read about it in one sitting.
While MediSave can help soften the blow of hospitalisation fee, it is definitely not enough. That’s where MediShield Life comes in. It is a basic insurance plan to protect all Singaporeans & PRs against large hospital bills, regardless of age or health condition. This is a lifetime insurance, and a safety net to catch any Singaporeans who may need help. So, MediShield Life is a good way to protect your family from any illness that may come your way.
You not only get better protection than MediSave, but also higher payouts, so that hole in your pocket will get smaller. Even if you are old or have pre-existing conditions, MediShield Life will protect you for life.
Conveniently, MediSave Life premiums are paid directly from your MediSave account. You won’t even feel like you’re “paying” anything and since it’s automatic, you’ll never have to worry.
Even for those who have trouble paying, the government is providing significant help to ensure everyone is covered. There are subsidies for the lower-to-middle income group, the Pioneer Generation, Transitional Subsidies, and even added support for those who are still unable to pay after the various subsidies. When they state “no Singapore Resident will drop out of MediShield Life due to the inability to pay for premiums”, they really mean it! More details can be found here.
Notably, MediShield payouts are targeted towards B2/C-type wards in public hospitals and will cover a certain portion of your bill. For A/B1-type wards or private hospitals, the MediShield Life payout will cover only a small portion of the bill.
MediShield Vs MediShield Life
“Wait, there’s a difference?” you might ask. MediShield was the old health insurance scheme, which was recently replaced in 2015, by the new MediShield Life. There are several notable differences. Firstly, unlike MediShield, there is no MediShield Life opt out. When they say “for life”, they really mean it. If you refuse to pay but are able to, you could face penalty charges of up to 17 per cent of what you owe. If you still refuse, an additional 4 per cent compound interest will be added every year. Even if you don’t use it, you might as well pay up to get the government off your back.
The other differences are that MediShield Life is more expensive than it’s previous incarnation. However, this is offset by higher payouts, in terms of cash payment and coverage. You will pay at least half less on MediShield Life than on MediShield. Another big difference is the subsidies, which were not given in the original MediShield. Aside from the subsidies mentioned earlier, there is also the Transitional Subsidies.
For the first four years (on top of the various subsidies already applied), the government is subsidising 90 per cent for the first year, 70 per cent for the second year, 40 per cent for the third year, and 20 per cent for the fourth year.
Private Health Insurance In Singapore
If you find MediShield Life to be somewhat lacking, worry not. There is another option available, known as the Integrated Shield Plan (IP), which integrates MediShield Life (you can’t escape from it) with private health insurance. Currently, there are 7 choices.
- AIA HealthShield GoldMax
- Aviva MyShield
- AXA Shield
- Great Eastern SupremeHealth
- NTUC IncomeShield
- Prudential PruShield
- Raffles Health Insurance (new, not shown on their site)
You may have heard from some of these, but here’s a quick rundown. These companies will act on the CPF Board’s behalf for premium collection and claims disbursement for the MediShield Life component of your Integrated Shield plan.
Basically, what the IP does, is provide additional coverage by private insurers. It will allow you to subsidise more of the cost for A/B1-type wards or private hospitals (of which MediShield Life only covers a small portion) and due to the higher payout, gives you more treatment options. It doesn’t replace MediShield Life, but rather, adds on to it so that you’ll feel more protected. Not only that, but you also get the convenience of not having to claim your own insurance. It sounds good, doesn’t it?
If you want to check whether you have IP, here’s how to do it. All you’ll need is your SingPass account.
- Go to cpf.gov.sg
- Log on to my cpf Online Services
- Go to “My Messages”
- See “Insurance” section
If you want to compare plans, check here. Be sure to consult the advice of insurance professionals before going with a plan, though!
IP Riders may sound like a superhero team name, but it most assuredly is not. IP Riders are add-ons paid in cash to your insurer. They can boost your insurance coverage even further. Several popular ones are getting a payout for each hospitalisation day or when discharged. There was also an option to go “full rider”, in which your insurer pays the full amount of your hospital bill. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, it actually is now. To prevent exploitation, the government has imposed that patients will now have to pay 5 per cent of the total hospital bill. However, those who were already “full riders” can still maintain their current plan until 1st April 2021.
However, IP Riders are still a viable option for those who want a further boost to their coverage!
By Muhd Farhan