Expat Guide to Singapore Health Care

By Thams Nicol, 29 May, 2014

Singapore, with its clean roads, healthy lifestyles and progressive ideology, has always been among the top choices for expatriates. The average life span of Singaporeans stands at 80 years; making people from around the world want to settle down in this South Asian nation.

For healthcare, Singapore proudly finds itself ranking among the top nations in the world. Singapore was ranked 6th in the world in 2000 by World Health Organization, the authority responsible for directing and co-ordinating health in countries that are part of the United Nations. It also ranked Singapore as number 1 in the Asia-Pacific region.

By 2010, 17 hospitals and medical centres from Singapore made it to the list of Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation. JCI is recognised as the oldest as well as the largest standards-setting and accrediting body in the United States. Accreditation and certification from JCI is known as the Gold Seal of Approval®

Some of the best healthcare and medical centres in the world including The West Clinic and John Hopkins are in Singapore. Singapore’s global reputation as a clinical research hub, as also the medical teams comprising of some of the world’s best doctors and facilitators is unmatched.

Along with top class quality, Singapore tries to promote affordability for its healthcare services. Healthcare in Singapore is funded by both the government and the individuals and their employers.

Almost 20% of Singapore’s health care is provided by 18 state-run polyclinics. The remaining 80% of primary health care is given by over 2000 private clinics conveniently located all over Singapore.

There are about 15 public hospitals in Singapore and countless private medical health care centres. The standards are very high as compared to government hospitals in other countries. About 21 major private hospitals provide excellent services in the medical field to both residents and expats.

If you are an expat in Singapore, you can seek a healthcare and insurance advisor to help you with your queries apart from guidance about the best hospitals. You must remember that healthcare services such as pharmacies ask for a prescription by a local registered doctor. Any overseas prescriptions must be accompanied by a local prescription.

Medical health insurance is covered by the Government implemented Central Provident Fund to which employees contribute 20% of their wages, and employers contribute another 15%. Personal medical expenses are covered under the Medisave, Medishield, Medifund and Medical Assistance Fund.

Medisave is part of a compulsory state insurance and pension scheme. Both employees and employers contribute to it. Medishield is another coverage scheme for chronic diseases and prolonged illnesses. There are international medical insurance companies like Now Health International that provide medical cover for expats internationally and this covers their stay duration in Singapore subject to medical rules that govern the state.

Polyclinics have subsidised fees for outpatients. Senior citizens and children below the age of 18 get almost 75% reductions in fees. Other Singapore citizens get 50% concession. Permanent Residents have further reduced rates. An expat however must pay from his pocket for outpatient services in the polyclinics as well as private centres.

Outpatient medical fees for expats are fairly affordable. However, expatriates must at least have inpatient medical health insurance coverage to meet medical bills for chronic illnesses, emergency treatments, medical evacuation, home nursing and reconstructive surgery among others.

Established names such as AXA, Allianz, BUPA, Aetna, MSH and GMC offer comprehensive health insurance packages to residents as well as expats under 2 categories: Standard for inpatient medical expenses and Comprehensive category for both inpatient and outpatient medical expenses.