The Covid-19 pandemic, and the extent to which it has disrupted the world, has gotten many contemplating their medical insurance coverage. You might think it’s too late to begin looking for private coverage, or wonder if you are lacking in any areas compared to the basic insurance coverage that you might already have.
Private medical insurance is an important consideration for all of us. Here’s a handy guide to getting you on the right track.
Why Do I Need Private Insurance?
Regardless of age, all of us can potentially fall ill, or meet with an accident. While we don’t tend to think about private insurance when we’re younger, the need becomes more apparent as we get older. By then, it could have become trickier or more expensive to get sufficient coverage.
Some might say that they can always pay for their medical expenses using the money in their Medisave accounts. While that is true, withdrawal limits still apply, depending on the complexity of the procedure. If the bill comes up to exceed the limits, that will need to be paid out of pocket.
Health insurance is considered so important that it is compulsory in Singapore. Learn more about health insurance in Singapore here.
Even with Medishield Life, the basic health insurance that every Singaporean and Permanent Resident has, it may still be insufficient to cover costs. Medishield Life covers costs at public hospitals up to Class B2/C wards.
Read more: MediShield Life Explained
Plans that supplement Medishield Life are called Integrated Shield Plans (ISPs). Such additional private coverage means a person can be covered for Class B1, Class A, or private hospitals, according to the plan chosen. We examine ISPs in this guide, also breaking down the list of private insurers and what they offer.
Life post-retirement requires planning, especially if you’re no longer covered by employment benefits.
Corporate health insurance is not a constant – and insufficient
Most people move on from job to job, rarely staying at one company for their entire career. That coverage may end when you change jobs, or retire, so we cannot solely depend on company coverage.
Company coverage often only fulfills the base minimum anyway. Most of the time, the coverage per disability is only S$50,000, an amount that is insufficient for serious illnesses.
One important point to note is that if the current company you’re in switches to a new insurance provider, or in the event that you change jobs, there will be a 12-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions, so you will not be covered during that period.
There are also some insurers that may choose to exclude the coverage for some employees with pre-existing conditions.
Another thing to consider is that should you be hit with a long-term ailment, such as cancer, you will therefore not be covered under the company’s basic plan, and you then will not be able to purchase a new private insurance plan at that point.
All these factors make the decision of purchasing private insurance over and above your company’s insurance plan even more pertinent.
It’s wise not to wait until you stop working to get private medical insurance, as there is a chance you may no longer be insurable due to age or poor health.
Think of Insurance as a Spare Battery Pack For Your Family and Loved Ones
Just as you would keep a spare battery pack for your phone to avoid being caught out with a flat battery, think about private insurance as a form of back up in the event of unexpected circumstances. We don’t always get to predict what happens, but we can always be prepared for when something serious hits.
This is especially important if you have family members who rely on you financially, and whom you might need to take care of in later years. Being adequately covered isn’t just for yourself — it is also for your loved ones should something happen to you.
This is a backup plan not just for yourself – but also for your loved ones. Caring for them is seeking out a plan for a rainy day. In the event of an accident or illness, you don’t want to saddle your family with a hefty bill.
Read more: Should I Get a Personal Accident Insurance?
Singapore Is Not A Welfare State – Healthcare Is Not Free
Unlike other countries, healthcare in Singapore is not always free. There may be government policies and grants that may subsidise the cost of healthcare, but it won’t be completely free of charge.
This is even more apparent when specialists are needed for more complicated cases. For example, in long-term disabilities, you’ll require doctors’ visits and checkups, but also medical care at home, modifications to your home and long-term rehabilitative care, amongst other related costs.
What To Look Out For In Private Insurance
Here are a few factors to consider when trying to pick a policy most suited for you. Some of these are: the insurance premium, deductibles, co-insurance amounts, the claims process, exclusions, as well as the lifetime renewal options.
First, ensure that you are being covered for the class of hospitals that you wish to visit should you fall sick. For example, make sure to not purchase a public hospital insurance coverage, then visit a private hospital later.
Second, be aware that with the current co-payment scheme, there is typically a 5 per cent co-payment required on the integrated shield plan bought after March 8th, 2019. This is so that you can make sure that you have ample emergency funds or ensure that your employee insurance covers the 5 per cent as mentioned.
Third, ensure that you purchase your plan early in order to avoid exclusion clauses in the event of pre-existing conditions arising.
Fourth, for foreigners working in Singapore, if you intend to stay in Singapore for the long haul, consider purchasing the integrated shield plan. You’ll be under the foreigner pricing, but will be able to convert it later should you become a Permanent Resident here. If you are a dependent of a Singaporean, you can use their Medisave to pay for it.
If you don’t plan to be in Singapore long-term, make sure your home country coverage is sufficient.
Finally, private coverage does not negate government coverage. Both types of coverage work together to provide Singaporeans with cost-effective options for their needs. Balance the private insurance options against the government’s existing healthcare schemes.
Medical insurance is a necessity to help us lead robust lives that are not crippled by such expenses. They, of course, come at a cost. Read on more here to find out how much coverage typically costs us over a lifetime.