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If you’re looking for information on healthcare in Singapore you’ve come to the right place.
Travellers and expats alike can look forward to exceptional levels of care while in Singapore, though this can be far from cheap.
The purpose of this article is to discuss healthcare for expats and travellers visiting Singapore, in order to ensure the best levels of care possible at the most competitive rates.
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The system put in place by the Singaporean government is designed to offer affordable healthcare for all, while promoting individual responsibility.
This is primarily financed through the Central Provident Fund, membership of which is obligatory for native citizens in Singapore.
Funding comes from the so-called “3M” framework:
Medisave is equivalent to the British National Insurance contribution system. All native employees are obliged to pay into their own personal Medisave account, the funds from which can be used to pay for medical care.
However there are some key differences between Medisave and the UK system.
For one, treatments are limited to pre-approved procedures and facilities.
Secondly funds are drawn directly for each treatment, meaning that limitations on medical care will depend on the overall balance of an individual’s contributions.
Thirdly, individuals can only use make use of a specific portion of their contributed funds, with the difference being funded either by third-party health insurance or from the individual’s private funds.
Lastly, it is interesting to note that contributions to Medisave vary by age; younger workers are expected to contribute a higher percentage of their income than more mature workers.
A second rung of the “3M” system comes in the form of Medishield. This can be considered a government-backed national health insurance scheme. While not obligatory, Medishield can help to cover medical costs that breach the limitations of Medisave.
According to the government of Singapore it is designed to provide “catastrophic illness” cover for longer-term or more serious illness, and all employees are enrolled as standard (though can opt out).
Essentially a “premium” version of Medishield, this coverage offers higher financial assistance in the case of illness – in exchange for higher premiums.
Expats in Singapore will fall into one of two different groups. The minority of expats will have been granted Resident Status, though the vast majority will not. This residential status affects the systems which you may utilize for healthcare, as well as the costs involved.
Broadly speaking while native Singaporeans receive a subsidy of up to 70% subsidy on medical care, permanent residents may only receive a 20% discount at best. Most expats, lacking resident status, receive no subsidy at all and so will need to pay full price for all treatments received.
To give an example of the costs involved with even basic medical care, consider these basic consultation fees from the National Healthcare Group:
Furthermore, non-permanent residents are not required to sign up for the state-backed CPF system, meaning that health insurance will not be provided to you as standard. Instead, individuals will be expected to shoulder the full financial consequences of any medical care required during their stay.
For this reason expats should consider expat health insurance a necessity for their time on the island. There are two ways this may be sourced:
Some expat employers have health insurance policies for all their staff. Expats should enquire about such policies, and carefully analyse the features that the employer-provided policy offers.
The alternative, where one’s employer does not offer health insurance or where the features are limited, is to invest in your own expat healthcare policy. To learn more about how we can help please click here.
It is important to note that Singapore does not accept prescriptions from other countries. Visitors requiring prescription medications should aim to bring both their prescription and treatments with them. On arrival you should seek a local doctor who will be able to prescribe the required drugs, or offer alternatives if these are not currently available.
The vaccinations required for Singapore are minimal, based on current UK government advice.
The following vaccinations are considered essential:
In some situations the following vaccinations may be advisable:
Expats and travellers alike are advised to check with your local doctor to ensure the most accurate advice on vaccinations for Singapore.
Singapore’s healthcare system offers a diverse range of treatment facilities. Roughly 20% of primary healthcare facilities are provided by the government while the remainder are private institutions. Even government-run hospitals and clinics may offer a mixture of subsidized and paid treatments.
It is important for expats to gain an understanding of the different medical facilities to be found in Singapore. The most popular classifications are:
General hospitals offer a broad range of services from emergency care to osteopathy and paediatric departments.
Sadly, expats and travellers without resident status will receive very little in the way of subsidized care so considerable funds may be required for treatment. For this reason expatriate health insurance is strongly advised to cover the premium prices charged in Singapore.
Private hospitals, as the name suggests, offer no subsidized care. They typically offers the highest levels of care and the shortest waiting lists for surgery and other procedures. That said, such care comes at a cost; the possession of an expatriate healthcare policy facilitates treatment in such establishments.
Community hospitals are designed for the less-wealthy. They are frequently funded at least in part by donations from wealthy patrons and may use volunteer staff to make up their numbers. Due to the lower treatment costs waiting times can be considerable.
Best thought of as a “super doctor’s surgery” polyclinics typically house a wide range of GPs under one roof. While not offering the 24 hour care of hospitals, polyclinics can be useful for everyday medical concerns. With a number of doctors in one building, each with their own specialisms, one can often find
In addition, numerous small doctor’s surgeries and clinics can be found in most residential areas.
For expats travelling to Singapore the following list provides an extensive over-view of the medical facilities to be found. The list is sortable, allowing you to find the right medical facility for your needs:
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