Health insurance options

Expat medical coverage in Singapore

Health insurance options

If you’re moving to Singapore soon, it’s a great idea to think about what sort of health care coverage you want. Knowing what your insurance options are can mean one less thing to worry about as you settle into the Lion City. 

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is one of the most common products offered to anyone travelling to a foreign country. You can expect a travel policy to cover a variety of incidents including:

  • Repatriation costs
  • Emergency medical care; including necessary evacuations
  • Accidental death or dismemberment

The important thing to remember with travel insurance is that, while you may get extra travel benefits, such as coverage for flight delays and lost luggage and passports, the policies are basically designed to provide emergency medical coverage. In other words, these plans are designed to help you get well enough to fly back to your home country.

That’s not to say that travel insurance provides less comprehensive medical coverage. These plans generally only last three months (but annual plans are available), and are perfect for expats visiting Singapore on holiday or working for less than a year. They’re also usually a lot less expensive than local and international insurance options as well, so they’re perfect for the budget-conscious expat.

Local insurance

Purchasing local health insurance in Singapore is a lot like buying policies elsewhere; you’re looking for an insurer who provides certain levels of coverage near a certain price. Expats with permanent residency (PR) will have eligibility to access Singaporean government subsidies, but if you don’t have PR status, then you’ll likely be looking for private medical insurance. These policies typically feature:

  • Hospital cover
  • General treatment cover (otherwise known as ancillary or extras)
  • Ambulance cover
  • Emergency evacuation and repatriation

Extras that can be added to local private insurance options can be maternity or dental coverage, as well as varying eligibility for chronic and pre-existing conditions - though bear in mind that adding these options will generally see you paying higher premiums. These plans are better for long-term expats, who may need coverage for a year or more.

In Singapore, a number of fantastic global and local insurers provide a wide range of insurance products for expats and locals alike. For example, a single, 35 year old male looking for coverage for 1+ years can expect to pay as little as US $52 per month for a simple inpatient insurance plan, while the more comprehensive plans can cost up to US $744 per month.

International medical insurance

International medical insurance plans are your more comprehensive solutions that are designed with expats in mind. While they are considerably more expensive than local or travel insurance plans, you can expect these policies to feature:

  • Extensive medical coverage worldwide
  • The ability to add optional extras such as dental or maternity care (at extra cost)
  • A wider choice of private and semi-private hospitals, medical staff and care options

These plans are perfect for expats living and working abroad, as well as those who frequently travel abroad from their home country and prefer not to purchase separate travel insurance policies for each trip. The main feature of these plans is that they’re global - your coverage goes everywhere you do!

A new feature of international medical insurance plans is that US taxpayers living abroad now have the ability to purchase one that also covers their Obamacare minimum essential coverage requirements. Where previously these expats had to purchase both US and overseas insurance plans, new products now allow for one policy to cover both .

Home country coverage

Residents of some countries may find that their home government has reciprocal agreements that provide varying levels of assistance for their expats in foreign countries.

Examples of this include Australia, whose reciprocal agreements with 11 countries provide citizens of other nations with subsidised benefits at public hospitals. The European Union itself has the European Health Insurance Card that allows expats from other EU nations to access healthcare at the same cost as their own citizens.

Some countries also provide their citizens with emergency care coverage, provided they’ve not been overseas for longer than 12 months. To find out if this applies to you, you should check with the local health authority in your country. Knowing you’re covered for emergency care over short-term stays, or for more general care due to a reciprocal agreement with your host country can affect your insurance needs.

How do I get insurance?

Looking for insurance solutions in Singapore doesn’t need to be a chore. You can research your options online, or you could use the services of an insurance broker to do all the work for you. Pacific Prime Singapore is an international health insurance broker  with over 15 years in the Asian market, and can help you find the right health insurance solution for your needs at no charge.

There are a number of important things to consider when you’re in the market for insurance, and a broker can make sure that the policy you purchase will cover everything you need, and nothing you don’t. 

Further reading

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