Health is wealth. We are very lucky to be living in Singapore, where we get to enjoy one of the best healthcare systems in the world.
As Singapore moves into becoming a rapidly ageing society, the need for healthcare becomes more acute. Even with advanced technology and easy access to healthcare, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cancer and diabetes, remain a leading cause of death in Singapore.
To prevent NCDs, adopting a healthy lifestyle and diet goes hand-in-hand with regular health screening to allow for early detection and intervention.
What is health screening and why is it important?
According to Health Hub, health screening is “the use of tests, physical examinations or other procedures to detect conditions early in people who look or feel well. This is different from diagnostic tests which are done when someone is already showing signs and/or symptoms of a condition.”
Regular health screening allows you to uncover conditions even if you do not show any symptoms. Early detection, followed by the appropriate treatment, can help to minimise long-term health issues and lowers the risk of serious complications.
Some might think that regular health screening is expensive and unnecessary. It can also be daunting to undergo a health screening for fear of detecting a serious disease. However, it is better to get diagnosed, especially for illnesses without symptoms, at an early stage to increase the chances of recovery than to let it develop into something more critical.
Early detection of illnesses can also translate into cheaper healthcare costs. Taking breast cancer, which accounts for the highest number of cancer cases in Singapore, as an example, studies have found that the global “mean treatment costs of breast cancer at Stage II, III and IV were 32%, 95%, and 109% higher than Stage I.”
What’s covered in a health screening?
Health screenings are typically split into general or specific health screenings.
General screening, also known as Comprehensive Health Screening, usually comprises a physical check-up and various tests to screen for common illnesses such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
If you suspect you have certain medical conditions, specific health screening targeted for that condition would be more suitable for you.
Health Promotion Board’s initiatives
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) has put in place various health screening programmes to screen for long-term diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, selected cancers, and age-related decline.
HPB has also categorised the various health screenings available into three broad categories:
|Category/Recommendation||What is it?|
|1 – Everyone||Tests that are suitable for screening everyone and are proven to be effective.|
|2 – Based on individual risk level||Based on your individual risk factors such as history of hereditary or chronic diseases, and exposure to factors that can lead to disease.|
|3 – Not recommended||Not recommended for anyone as there is insufficient information to support the use of these tests.|
Category 1 consists of tests that are suitable for the general public and are proven to be clinically effective. Additionally, HPB shares the recommendation table below for Category 1 health screenings:
Source: Health Promotion Board
Category 2 health screenings are typically more specific tests that are based on an individual’s risk levels. These are screenings that can be beneficial for some, especially those with a family history of medical conditions, but might not be for others.
These include Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA), Breast MRI, and CT Colonography screenings. The complete list of Category 2 tests can be found here.
HPB suggests that for Category 3 tests, “it is best to speak to your family doctor who will advise you to go for the relevant screening tests based on your individual health profile.”
Price comparison between different healthcare providers
The cost of health screenings in Singapore can vary across a wide range of prices. You can get comprehensive and specific health screening in public hospitals, private hospitals, and private clinics across Singapore. All of these places will be offering their own package and inclusions.
For easy comparison, we have tabulated the costs of a basic general health screening package from various healthcare providers across Singapore below:
|Healthcare Provider||Types of Screening||Costs|
|Singapore General Hospital||Basic Chronic Disease Assessment||S$422.28|
|National University Hospital||Health Essential||S$298|
|Ng Teng Fong Hospital||Essential Package||S$101|
|Tan Tock Seng Hospital||Core Screening Package||S$200|
|Raffles Medical||Raffles Classic 2023||S$129.60|
|Fullerton Health||Premium Package||S$505.44|
|Mount Alvernia Hospital||Alvernia Ladies/Men Prime||S$702|
|Minmed Group||Coleman Package||S$90|
|Sata CommHealth||Lite Package||S$316|
|Central Clinic||Basic Package||S$48|
As you can see, even the most basic health screening package offered may have a wide range of prices, varying from Central Clinic’s S$48 to Mount Alvernia Hospital’s S$702.
While all of these health screenings include clinical measurements, blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol measurements, the exact inclusions vary from provider to provider.
For example, Minmed Group’s Coleman package includes Bone Disease Screening, which is not available in Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s and Ng Teng Fong Hospital’s screenings. Likewise, Fullerton Health’s Premium package includes an Electrocardiogram (ECG), while National University Hospital’s and Raffles Medical’s packages do not.
The most expensive package might not be what you need, and it is important for you to compare the plans before committing to one. Some healthcare providers also offer add-ons that you can have alongside your health screening, including Tumour Markers screening and Diabetes Mellitus testing.
National Health Screening Scheme
The National Health Screening Scheme, also known as Screen for Life, is the national screening programme by HPB that encourages Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents to go for regular health screenings and follow-ups.
While it is less comprehensive than the general health screening at hospitals or clinics, they are very affordable and specific.
If you are a Singapore Citizen, you can access subsidised screening for cardiovascular disease, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer at $5 or lower as long as you are eligible. This fixed fee also covers one follow-up consultation (if needed).
The type of screening and its eligibility are as followed:
|Type of screening||Eligibility|
|Breast Cancer Screening||Women aged 50 years and above, and two years since the last mammogram|
|Cardiovascular Risk Screening||Men and women aged 40 years and above, and three years since your last screening|
|Cervical Cancer Screening||Women aged 25 years and above, and three years since your last Pap test or five years since your last HPV test|
|Colorectal Cancer Screening||Men and women aged 50 years and above, and one year since your last screening with FIT|
These screening services are only available at Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) General Practitioner (GP) clinics. If you prefer to do the health screening at polyclinics, your visit will be subsidised according to the existing polyclinic subsidies that you are eligible for.
For Healthier SG (HSG)-enrolled Singapore Citizens, nationally-recommended screenings under Screen for Life will be fully subsidised at their enrolled HSG clinic.
Breast cancer screening is also offered at subsidised rates at selected polyclinics. The rates are $25 for Pioneer Generation cardholders, $37.50 for Merdeka Generation cardholders, $50 for Singapore Citizens and $75 for Permanent Residents.
Going for regular health screenings is important as you will want to detect any condition as early as possible. Early detection not only saves you money but can also potentially save your life.
The necessity and frequency of a comprehensive health screening varies from person to person, and when in doubt, ask your family doctor for recommendations.
Don’t stop yourself from getting a health screening just because of its price or fear of what you might find. Not scheduling a screening for yourself can end up costing you more in the long run due to health complications.
For Planner Bee readers, Minmed Group is offering a preferential rate for you. Book a health screening with our code “GBUPUE” via WhatsApp with the code to enjoy special rates today!