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Living in Singapore, from USA

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Health & Insurance

Expat Health Insurance for Singapore

The Southeast Asian city state is well known for its medical quality standards and the affordable plans for public healthcare in Singapore. Unfortunately, many expats are not eligible for these schemes. Still, we’ll explain how healthcare in Singapore works and which options temporary residents have.

As mentioned on the first page of our guide to healthcare in Singapore, the city state has a fairly extensive health insurance system. However, government-sponsored medical care via the Central Provident Fund is only available for citizens and permanent residents. Expatriates have to provide for their health insurance cover with a private insurance scheme. There are plenty of providers: Singapore is an expat hub, and lots of Singaporeans invest in private top-up insurance to supplement public healthcare.

Insurance Requirements for Expats with Various Kinds of Permits

For some foreign workers and employees, healthcare cover is a legal requirement. If you stay in the country with a work visa for skilled and unskilled workers, your employer has to provide you with health insurance. However, this hardly applies to the typical expat. Temporary S passes for mid-level skilled workers and employees oblige you to take out medical insurance for a successful visa/permit application.

Expats with special expertise, managerial jobs, or executive positions usually have an Employment Pass for Singapore. Unlike the S pass holders, they don’t need to show proof of health insurance when they apply for their visa and/or permit. However, Singapore’s outstanding medical care comes at a price. Oftentimes, you must pay your hospital bills in cash or leave at least a substantial deposit. Even if you have an above-average income, you should take the necessary precautions for serious illnesses and medical emergencies.

Health Insurance Options for Expatriates in Singapore

Business travelers and short-term visitors should make sure to have travel insurance that covers Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries, if necessary. Expatriates who plan to live in Singapore for a while usually sign up with an international health insurance company. This applies particularly if they want to receive private care.

Since they aren’t part of the public healthcare schemes, expats are exempt from financial contributions to CPF insurance. On the other hand, their medical bills are not subsidized by the Singaporean government. They will therefore be higher on the average. Emergency treatment for foreign residents is the only exception to this no-subsidies rule.

Generally speaking, insurance companies offer two different packages for expatriates in Singapore and their families. Inpatient-only plans reimburse costs for hospitalization, but you have to pay for doctor’s fees out of your own pocket, which also adds to your cost of living. If you prefer full insurance coverage, you should go for a comprehensive package, which also reimburses outpatient treatment and consultation fees.

For instance, for a private appointment with a senior consultant at the Singapore General Hospital, you need to pay a fee of SGD 106. However, at one of Singapore’s polyclinics, non-residents only pay around SGD 40 for a similar service.

Finding an Insurance Scheme for Singapore

Expat insurance plans are often available through your employer’s HR department. If you don’t want to shop around among various insurance companies, like Axa, Aviva, Bupa, etc, an independent insurance specialist can help you compare offers. Before you sign anything, there are some things you should definitely keep in mind.

Going to Malaysia for major treatment has become fairly popular among people living in Singapore. Kuala Lumpur is just round the corner. The medical standards in the Malaysian capital have improved tremendously while the costs are still a good deal lower than in Singapore.

InterNations Expat Magazine