Cancer treatment is a notoriously hefty expense. Taking the first step to discuss viable insurance plans can go a very long way in safeguarding you and your family’s finances.
Insurance plans can cover a wide range of unforeseen medical emergencies, from treating minor accidental injuries to long-term medical treatments. In this article, we’ll be deep-diving into one of Singapore’s leading critical illness and what you can do to prepare financially.
The prevalence of cancer in Singapore
The Ministry of Health has named cancer the leading cause of death in Singapore with the number of cancer cases on the rise in recent years. The Singapore Cancer Society estimates that almost 39 people are diagnosed with cancer every day, and it is projected that 1 in 4 people may develop cancer in their lifetime.
Among women in Singapore, breast, colorectal, and lung cancer were the top-ranked cancers while colorectal, lung, and prostate cancer were among the top-ranked cancers among the country’s male population.
While these figures may be alarming, it is possible to have better clinical outcomes through early detection, treatment, and a critical illness insurance plan to pay for those treatments.
What is the average cost of cancer treatment in Singapore?
Just like in other countries across the globe, the cost of cancer treatment in Singapore can also place a heavy burden on your finances.
Below are some of the procedure costs related to common cancers in Singapore:
|Condition/Procedure||Total bill paid by 50% of patients|
(Typically includes doctor’s consultation fee, ward charges, medication, tests, etc.)
|Public hospitals / centres (Subsidised)||Public hospitals / centres (Unsubsidised)||Private hospitals / clinics|
|Chemotherapy||Ward B2: S$2,059|
Day surgery: $51
|Not available||Inpatient: S$5,117|
Day surgery: S$3,949
|Lung scope (bronchoscopy) with biopsy and surgery to remove tissue||Ward B2: S$3,008|
Ward C: S$2,518
Day surgery: S$624
|Not available||Inpatient: S$20,422|
Day surgery: S$3,999
|Lungs with abnormal growth, but not very severe complications||Ward B2: S$1,322|
Ward C: S$1,223
|Ward A: S$3,656|
Ward B1: S$3,117
Day surgery: S$5,345
|Lungs with abnormal growth, and very severe complications||Ward B2: S$2,649|
Ward C: S$2,202
|Ward A: S$10,190|
Ward B1: S$8,127
|Colonscopy for diagnosis (with/without biopsy)||Ward B2: S$1,765|
Ward C: S$1,264
Day surgery: S$554
|Ward A: S$4,737|
Ward B1: S$3,429
Day surgery: S$1,865
Day surgery: S$2,528
|Surgery to remove part of the large intestine||Ward B2: S$5,391|
Ward C: S$4,403
|Not available||S$ 37,903|
|Surgery to remove part of the end of the large intestine, and rectum||Ward B2: S$5,569|
Ward C: S$4,298
|Ward B1: S$23,041||S$47,321|
|Surgery to remove cancerous growth in breast and underarm lymph nodes||Ward B2: S$2,083||Not available||Inpatient: S$23,423|
|Day surgery to remove single growth in breast||S$919||S$2,863||Inpatient: S$9,125|
Day surgery: S$7,279
|Surgery to remove entire prostate and surroundings||Ward B2: $10,590|
Ward C: S$10,196
|Ward A: S$26,244||S$53,326|
|Endoscopy with/without biopsy||Ward B2: S$1,561|
Ward C: S$1,298
Day surgery: S$321
|Ward B1: S$3,079|
Day surgery: S$1,026
Day surgery: S$1,915
|Stomach, liver or pancreas cancer, but not very severe complications||Ward B2: S$1,924|
Ward C: S$1,401
Day surgery: S$870
|Ward A: S$3,455|
Ward B1: S$4,193
What is a standalone cancer insurance plan?
In response to the increasing diagnosis and cost of treatment in the country, insurers have launched standalone insurance plans to cover cancers from early to advanced stages.
These specialised insurance plans are used to relieve the loss of income from being out of a job from cancer diagnosis as well as the additional costs involved including breast reconstruction, alternative treatment and medicine, acquiring home care services, and additional supplementary costs.
To get you started on the various options available, here are some of the country’s best insurance plans, from FWD to Great Eastern.
Different stages of cancer
Cancer is typically diagnosed in various stages: Stage 0, Stage 1, Stage 2 or 3, and Stage 4.
Stage 0, also known as ‘in situ’, means there are abnormal cancer cells situated in place and have yet to spread from where they started. While this is no cause for alarm just yet, it is helpful to remove the tumour entirely through surgery to prevent cancer from developing any further.
At Stage 1, the cancer is small and contained within the organ of origin, and hasn’t spread into nearby tissues, lymph nodes, or other areas in the body. This is often referred to as early-stage cancer.
In Stages 2 and 3, the cancer is much larger and has spread into nearby tissues or lymph nodes, but has not spread into other parts of the body.
Stage 4 is the most critical phase, where it has spread to other organs and deep tissues in the body and has reached the final stage of development. This can also be referred to as advanced or metastatic cancer.
Staging is an important part of a cancer diagnosis as it helps doctors plan the appropriate treatment options for a patient and can be used in estimating a person’s prognosis.
How does medical insurance differ from critical illness insurance?
There is a common misconception that medical insurance and critical illness insurance can be used interchangeably, but they are two very different policies to serve different purposes.
A medical insurance plan protects you in the event of a medical emergency and covers your medical expenses and hospitalisation costs. Such hospitalisation costs are hard to estimate as it depends on the diagnosis and treatment required.
For instance, the bill for a severe case of stomach flu for a two-day hospitalisation stay would cost a lot less than one for cancer, where treatment may involve surgeries and year-long chemotherapy.
In both these cases, the costs incurred will be covered by medical insurance.
In the case of a critical illness like stroke or cancer, a critical illness insurance plan provides a lump sum payout based on the sum determined at the point where you purchase the insurance.
Standalone cancer insurance is a type of critical illness plan. It will provide a payout just like a critical illness plan, but only in the event of a cancer diagnosis.
Standalone cancer insurance is a type of critical illness plan. It will provide a payout just like a critical illness plan, but only in the event of a cancer diagnosis. If a person only has a standalone cancer plan and not a critical illness plan, there will be no payout in the event of a stroke or heart attack.
Starting 1 April 2021, all Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) with full riders will be phased out. Moving forward, this revised implementation will require policyholders to pay at least 5 percent of their hospital bills.
Despite that, this may be good news for consumers as this may keep medical costs and premiums down in Singapore, keeping healthcare affordable in the country.
As most medical insurance plans reimburse the costs of medical treatment as per the bill, the annual claim limits are adjusted over time to help manage the effects of inflation. These plans are renewed on a yearly basis. In some cases, the insurer may impose additional premiums on the following year when claims are made, and discounts if there are no claims.
In Singapore, the Life Insurance Association (LIA) defines the list of critical illnesses covered. As of 2019, there are 37 medical conditions covered under this framework.
Once a diagnosis is made, a claim can be filed to the insurance company, where the money can then be used at your discretion. This sum could help with costs for medical expenses that medical insurance does not cover including home nursing, transportation expenses, and household expenses.
Policy terms can be anything from a year to your entire lifetime. This can help alleviate the financial burden that patients and their families face from the increased expenses and loss of income.
Manage your insurance policies with Planner Bee
Critical illnesses like cancer aren’t meant to be taken lightly. While making different lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of cancer or prevent its rapid spread, we should also prioritise financial planning to be prepared for such unforeseen circumstances.
To help you manage your insurance policies, savings, and expenses more efficiently, Planner Bee is here for you. Users can view their categorised and synced insurance policies and receive a personalised overview of their total insurance payables each year.