Health Insurance Coverage in Singapore: 4 Things to Understand

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The public healthcare system in Singapore is known for being one of the best in the world, consistently being in the top ranks in global healthcare indexes and quality assessments. Many factors contribute to this excellence, including the country’s robust health insurance policies and programmes.

Indeed, when it comes to providing quality healthcare services, the Singapore government wants to make sure that citizens and permanent residents can afford them—whether they’re getting treatment at a public hospital, private hospital, or medical centre.

Here are a few things you should know about Singapore’s health insurance to get a better understanding of the types of coverage individuals can get in the Lion City.

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Singapore Offers Universal Basic Healthcare Insurance

Unlike many other countries, Singapore provides universal basic healthcare insurance. Known as MediShield Life, this programme ensures that people have convenient access to essential healthcare services and financial protection against large medical bills. MediShield Life, which was created to replace the previous MediShield scheme, is mandatory and is administered by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board and overseen by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

MediShield Life covers all Singaporean citizens, as well as permanent residents (PRs). In addition, even newborns and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions are included in Medishield. Finally and perhaps most importantly, there is no need to apply for MediShield life because all eligible individuals automatically enrolled in the programme.

This health insurance programme offers coverage for a range of medical procedures and expenses, including hospital stays, surgeries, outpatient treatments, and selected costly outpatient treatments for chronic conditions. Moreover, MediShield Life boasts a lifetime coverage; all policyholders are covered for life, regardless of age or changes in health status. This provides peace of mind, knowing that they’re protected against the financial burden of medical expenses throughout their lives.

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Citizens and PRs Can Use MediSave and MediFund to Help Cover Their Medical Expenses

In addition to MediShield Life, Singapore provides further support for healthcare expenses through two other key initiatives: MediSave and MediFund. These programmes are aimed at helping citizens and permanent residents manage their medical costs and ensure access to essential healthcare services.

What is MediSave?

MediSave is a national medical savings scheme that allows individuals to set aside a portion of their income into a dedicated account to cover future healthcare expenses for themselves and their dependents. Contributions to MediSave are made by both employers and employees, with funds accumulating over time and earning interest.

With MediSave, Singapore citizens and permanent residents can pay for a wide range of healthcare expenses, including hospitalisation, surgeries, outpatient treatments, and certain preventive screenings. This helps with the management of healthcare costs and reduces the financial burden associated with medical care. Also, those who contribute to this medical savings scheme are eligible for tax relief. This provides additional incentives to maximise their health savings and better prepare for future medical expenses.

Moreover, MediSave funds can be used for the medical expenses of both the account holder and their immediate family members. Thanks to this flexibility, families can pool their resources and collectively manage their healthcare costs.

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What is MediFund?

MediFund is a government assistance scheme designed to help those who are unable to afford their medical bills despite using their MediSave and other means of payment. It serves as a safety net for those facing financial difficulties due to unexpected or overwhelming medical expenses. This assistance ensures that individuals have access to necessary medical treatments without facing undue financial hardship. And, unlike loans or grants, MediFund does not need to be repaid.

Keep in mind, however, that the amount received from MediFund will depend on the concerned individual’s family’s financial, health, and social conditions. The medical bills incurred are also taken into account. Nevertheless, this scheme ensures that citizens and PRs in need can receive support for their medical expenses without worrying about additional financial obligations in the future.

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Citizens and PRs Can Upgrade Their Compulsory Insurance Plan                

For those who want to get extra benefits and features on top of MediShield Life, they can buy Integrated Shield Plans (IPs). These plans offer policyholders greater flexibility and choice in managing their healthcare needs, allowing them to tailor their healthcare experience to suit their preferences. Individuals who have IPs can access a wider network of hospitals and specialists, and typically have shorter waiting times. Thus, policyholders can choose their preferred healthcare providers and receive treatment in more comfortable and convenient settings.

IPs also allow policyholders to pick their preferred ward class when seeking medical treatment, including options for private or higher-tier wards. This ensures that individuals can receive care that aligns with their preferences and lifestyle needs. What’s more, IPs have higher coverage limits for medical expenses, including hospitalisation, surgery, and outpatient treatments. This way, policyholders can receive the best possible care without worrying about out-of-pocket expenses.

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Singapore Has CareShield Life

CareShield Life is a government-run insurance scheme that was launched in 2020. It provides lifetime protection for individuals who develop severe disability or require long-term care due to severe disability. It is administered by the MOH and is in place of the previous ElderShield. CareShield Life aims to provide financial support—in the form of cash payouts— and peace of mind to policyholders and their families in the event of disability.

One of the benefits of this insurance scheme is its portability. This means policyholders can continue to receive benefits even if they relocate overseas. This way, covered individuals who develop severe disability can access financial support regardless of their location.

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All Singapore citizens and PRs born in 1980 or later are automatically enrolled in CareShield Life when they turn 30 years old, regardless of their health status or pre-existing conditions. Individuals who are not eligible for automatic enrolment, such as those born before 1980, can opt to join CareShield Life voluntarily.

Singapore’s public healthcare system is the envy of the world, and one of the reasons behind this is the country’s healthcare insurance programmes and policies. The Singapore government greatly invests in its people, which is why it works hard to ensure that citizens and PRs can have access to quality care without having to worry too much about their finances.

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