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Understanding health insurance in Singapore

As most people know, there are lots of details to take care of when moving house. And as expats know, moving countries ramps things up tenfold.

In all the stress and excitement, it's easy to forget a few things, such as sorting out medical insurance on the other side.

But getting health insurance in Singapore should be a top priority, especially given the high cost of treatment in the country. You also never know when a medical emergency or health crisis can hit, as the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us.

Let's look at what you can expect once in Singapore, and what options there are for medical insurance for foreigners.

Does Singapore have good healthcare?

Our system is ranked among the best in the world for providing top-quality medical care. There are well-equipped public and private hospitals and a wide range of highly qualified medical practitioners.

Is healthcare in Singapore free?

While healthcare is not exactly free, hospitalisation, outpatient services and long-term care at public facilities are subsidised – in some cases up to 80%. Like the UK's National Health Service, Singapore's government-run and publicly funded National Healthcare Plan (NHP) aims to be 'universally' available to everyone. There are mandatory contributions from eligible employees’ salaries into the Central Provident Fund (CPF), allowing them access to healthcare. Most services just require presentation of a national registration identity card.

Is there health insurance in Singapore for foreigners?

If you’re an expat working in Singapore, you don’t have to contribute to the CPF, but there's a caveat: you can’t access the NHP. Only Singapore citizens and permanent residents qualify. Expats must pay for their medical treatment in cash, which can get expensive.

Because of this, many expats in Singapore opt for private insurance – either group cover provided by an employer, or individual insurance.

Group insurance

Check with your employer to see what sort of benefits may be offered if they have group health insurance.

Bear in mind that companies often impose restrictions on their medical insurance cover to save costs and make it more affordable. One way is to exclude certain treatments. Another is to limit the benefits, meaning any costs over and above what they cover will have to be paid by you. They could also only use a certain network of healthcare providers, reducing your options.

Ask yourself if this insurance is sufficient to cover your entire family's medical needs.

While they may claim to offer comprehensive cover, look at what is included and what the exclusions are. For instance, are pre-existing conditions covered? Is there dental cover? What about maternity?

Private insurance

If your company doesn't provide a medical plan, it makes a lot of sense to get individual cover. 

There are a number of different insurance options, and premiums will depend on your age, gender, and other factors, such as how much cover you want.

International medical coverage

For many expats, getting international health insurance makes sense, especially if they plan to travel regularly around the region. 

InternationalExclusive gives you access to private healthcare services within a region of your choice, whether you live in Asia or further afield as an expat. You can also get international emergency medical assistance. There's a range of options to suit your particular needs. 

Read our full FAQs for more information on the HSBC InternationalExclusive plan.

Which health insurance is best in Singapore?

Healthcare plans can vary greatly depending on where you live, and Singapore is no different. As an expat, finding the right health insurance can be time consuming and confusing. But it's important to take the time to read the fine print of any policy, to make sure it's the best option for you and your family.

If you’re having trouble deciding on a healthcare plan, at HSBC Singapore we can explain the differences between the policies and guide you through the process.

As a global citizen, you can continue to enjoy peace of mind by signing up for the comprehensive health insurance policy offered by HSBC's healthcare partner, AXA.

Good luck, and stay well.

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