Primary healthcare services
Polyclinics and private medical clinics are the first port of call for any illnesses in Singapore, where General Practitioners (GPs) and nurses will treat you and/or refer you to a specialist or hospital.
Primary healthcare in Singapore covers:
- Primary medical treatment
- Preventive healthcare
- Outpatient medical treatment
- Post-hospital follow-up treatment
- Health screening and education
- Pharmaceutical services
There are 18 polyclinics situated conveniently throughout the community, with half managed by Singhealth and the other half by National Healthcare Group - both public healthcare bodies.
Currently, polyclinics only meet 20% of the primary healthcare demand in Singapore, with the private medical clinics meeting the remaining 80%. This is not surprising considering there are around 1,500 private medical clinics compared to only 18 polyclinics.
Singapore has 6 general public hospitals, plus a women and children’s hospital and a psychiatric hospital. These provide both inpatient and outpatient services and 24-hour emergency wards.
There are also 8 specialty centres in Singapore specialising in:
- Cardiac treatment
- Dental care
Choosing your ward
Upon admission to a public hospital, you are given the choice between three different types of ward accommodation. Class ‘C’ and ‘B2’ are heavily subsidised meaning the personal cost is lower, while ‘B1’ receives a lower subsidy and class ‘A’ none at all.
The subsidies for class ‘C’ and ‘B2’ wards means that they are normally reserved for citizens and permanent residents who pay into the public healthcare scheme. Class ‘B1’ and ‘A’ wards typically cater to citizens and expats who have private insurance.
Introduced for intermediate healthcare, people recovering from illness and the elderly, community hospitals are the latest addition to the government healthcare system.
There are 10 private hospitals in Singapore, all of which are typically much smaller than the public ones, with capacity ranging from just 20 to 345 compared to 185 to 2,010.
Private hospitals in Singapore have a glowing reputation, with many likened to 5-star hotels for the amenities provided, such as complimentary massages, limousine transfer services and marble bathrooms.
While the role of government as the dominant healthcare provider in Singapore has traditionally set the benchmark for private sector pricing, this development could see private costs rise over the next few years, despite the claims that this 5-star healthcare is “no longer reserved only for the uber-rich”.