“Do you need health insurance?”
If this question was asked to a resident of India, they would say, “Of course, duh!”. If anyone asks us Singaporeans whether we need a health insurance, we would say, “Nah, already got MediShield Life, right?”. This is because the government in India does not have a compulsory health insurance plan for its citizens, but in Singapore, we have a government health insurance plan.
Since we have MediShield, some of us are less than enthusiastic about getting a private health insurance policy. After all, insurance premiums can be costly. But it’s not as simple as that. What if your needs are higher than what MediShield can provide for? So, to answer the question of whether you need a health insurance policy, we first need to understand what level of protection MediShield gives us.
What are the benefits of MediShield Life?
MediShield Life, an updated version of MediShield, was launched in November 2015. The policy allows you to claim the following medical expenses:
- In-patient treatment and/or day surgeries:
- Normal ward – S$700 per day
- ICU ward – S$1,200 per day
- Community Hospital – S$350 per day-
- Psychiatric ward – S$100 per day
- Surgical procedures – S$200 per day, up to S$2,000
- Implants – S$7,000 per treatment
- Radiosurgery – S$4,800 per procedure
- Outpatient Treatments:
- Chemotherapy for cancer – S$3,000 per month
- Radiotherapy for cancer: S$140 per session
- Brachytherapy – S$500 per session
- Kidney dialysis – S$1,000 per month
- Immunosuppressant in case of organ transplant – S$200 per month
- Erythropoietin treatment for chronic kidney failure – S$200 per month
You can get a maximum of S$100,000 in a policy year, but there is no limit on the number of claims you can make. There is also no maximum age for making claims, and older persons can, in fact, get a higher allowance on certain hospital ward categories.
The policy also covers pre-existing illnesses, though in some conditions you might have to pay extra premiums. The premium payments are subsidised by the government to make the policy affordable for every Singaporean. Now, MediShield Life might give you adequate cover at public hospitals, but if you would like to be covered for expenses at private hospitals, you should think about getting an Integrated Shield Plan offered by a private health insurer.
What should you consider before choosing a private health insurance policy?
You need to look at the existing health insurance policies you are part of. That is, the MediShield Life and your company’s group health insurance.
MediShield Life is a basic healthcare plan with hospital cash benefits as well as medical expense benefits. But the policy does not cover the massive bills of critical illnesses or disability. ElderShield is another Medisave-linked policy for those looking for long-term care insurance. In addition, you can use your Medisave account to pay for hospitalisation and selected outpatient or one-day surgical treatments. You can also pay your premiums for MediShield Life, ElderShield and Integrated Shield Plan using Medisave savings.
Many companies – especially large MNCs – offer group health insurance policies to their employees. This cover might come with hospital cash and medical expense benefits, but the coverage is likely to be lower and has many exclusions and restrictions. The conditions of group insurance policies differ from employer to employer and depend on the insurance company as well.
However, all these considerations are good only for a Singapore citizen or a permanent resident. Foreigners working and staying in Singapore have no choice but to get a private health insurance policy.
What benefits do private health insurance policies give?
Private health insurance policies are not usually as lenient as MediShield Life when it comes to pre-existing illnesses and age limits. They also offer no subsidy on deductibles and co-insurance amounts. However, private health insurance policies provide far more coverage for certain illnesses than the government insurance policies. Here are some things you cannot get with a government health insurance that private insurers provide:
- If you don’t have an Integrated Shield Plan alongside your MediShield Life, you could go for a private hospital cash insurance policy. This is because private insurers are likely to offer more daily hospital cash benefit for higher-tier hospital wards.
- Not all critical illness treatments are covered by MediShield Life. Many private insurers offer a greater coverage of critical illnesses and a higher payout.
- Government insurances do not offer disability income. So if you want to be sure of being able to receive an income even after being permanently disabled, you will need to look at disability income insurances from private players.
- Private insurance policies offer riders that will give you benefits such as waiver of deductibles and co-insurance, additional critical illness coverage, etc. You can add a rider of your choice to your private health insurance policy at an additional cost.
So, do I need a private health insurance or not?
After these lessons in health insurance, we are going to tell you something you must have heard from everyone – whether you should take a private health insurance or not depends on your needs! If you prefer to be treated in a private room rather than sharing a hospital ward, want to be able to choose your own doctor and get a preferred slot for surgeries, and need air-conditioned rooms at the very least, you have to turn to a private health insurance company.
If you are happy receiving good treatment in an affordable room, stick with your MediShield Life. Maybe you can add an Integrated Shield Plan for slightly more benefits. But dear foreigners, you have no option but to choose a private health insurance policy. So sorry, dudes.
Have you got your health insurance yet?
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