Besides education, healthcare is one area that needs special attention, especially if you are a foreigner living and working here. Without knowing what to do, what type of healthcare you need and where to go, it would be quite difficult should the need arises.
Healthcare in Singapore
What makes Singapore such an advanced market is its first-class facilities and systems. It is no surprise that Singapore is a major medical-tourism destination with people coming here from all parts of the world to find treatment by specialists. This is the very reason why, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, Singapore has constantly been among the top 5. This puts the country among the top in the world when it comes to healthcare.
What you need to know?
Some simple facts you should know about healthcare in Singapore.
- Healthcare is available for everyone in Singapore whether you are a foreigner or a local. You can choose between public or private healthcare
- the average cost required for an ER visit is about SGD120
- outpatient doctor’s visit is about SGD50
- public health insurance is about SGD5 while it is about SGD50 for private health insurance
- there are over 200 pharmacies and more than 25 hospitals across Singapore
Is there a free healthcare programme in Singapore
Unlike other countries, there is no welfare programme in Singapore that covers healthcare services. This means that there is no free healthcare services here. Citizens and permanent residents here have to get a basic healthcare insurance plan through their social security savings scheme contributed via their income.
What are the costs like?
As a guide, here are some of the costs of common treatments in Singapore. For the removal of appendix, it would cost you between SGD 4,000 to SGD 10,000. Cataract surgery can be from SGD1,000 and can be up to SGD6,000. Kidney stones treatment is very common among Singaporeans, costing them at an average of SGD4,000.
Types of hospitals in Singapore
Hospitals in Singapore can be classified either they are public or private. Naturally, government or public hospitals would be more affordable while private ones can be very costly, depending on which one you check in at. After all, private hospitals offer more exclusive treatment and specialist services. Having said that, it must be noted that public hospitals in Singapore are world-class and have very good treatment as well although it can be more crowded. If you check in to a private hospital, the cost of staying in a public ward (usually about 10 – 12 beds in a room) will cost you about SGD 40 daily. The lesser the beds in a room, the more expensive it would be. You can stay in single room with your own TV and attached bathroom and that will cost you about SGD 500 per day.
What if you are a foreigner?
There are about 1.5 foreigners staying in Singapore. The total population is about 5.6 million which means foreigners make up about one-fifth of the people here. Whether you are here for work or you have settled down here, you need to have some form of health coverage. Be very cautious about your existing insurance policies that you bought in your home country because they might not be applicable in Singapore.
If you are working here, your employer would most likely provide you with some basic health insurance benefits which you must check and ensure that it cover your basic needs as well as you family members if you are bringing them along. On the other hand, if you are self-employed or starting your own business here, then you would really need to have a sound policy for your health. One of the main issues when it comes to expatriates in Singapore is childbirth. If you are coming with an expecting mother, you need to apply to the SIR or Singapore Immigration and Registration office to deliver here through a local sponsor who must be a citizen or a PR.
Prescriptions for foreigners
You should not be bringing your prescription from your home doctor and use it here because they are not valid. Pharmacies here will only acknowledge a prescription issued by a local registered medical doctor before medicine can be dispensed. As such, you need to engage a doctor here. If you have a prescription from your home doctor, you should have this discussed with the local doctor here so that the necessary prescription can be issued. Take note that your preferred brand of drug might not be available which means you might have to find another option.
What you should know about processes in healthcare?
The standard operating procedure here is very much the same where you will consult a doctor and then getting your medicine or drugs from the pharmacies. Most healthcare services in Singapore have the latest medical technologies and equipment, even in public centres. In fact, some of the hospitals here have been known to be the benchmark for healthcare standards like Mount Elizabeth, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, the Singapore General Hospital and the National University Hospital.
Other public hospitals in Singapore here include Changi General Hospital, Kandang Kerbau and the Ang Mo Kio Community Hospital among others. In fact, the public hospitals in Singapore have certain specializations where some have acute care services.
Specialist Treatment in Singapore
There are certain specialist centres in Singapore which are very popular among patients. After all, Singapore has the reputation for being a centre for treatment of certain medical conditions like cancer, asthma and eye conditions.
- Parkway Cancer Centre – this is one of the renowned and established centers for treatment of cancer. There is a comprehensive cancer treatment service here made up of a team of specialists, consultants and professionals including world-class equipment.
- National Cancer Centre – This is specialty center in Singapore that offers a full range of treatment services for cancer patients which include not only treatment but diagnosis and research as well. When it was once a part of the Singapore General Hospital, it is now a standalone entity offering more focused services for cancer patients.
Cost of Health insurance
Depending on what and how much you want to be covered for healthcare, the cost can be quite erratic in terms of range. A basic health insurance in Singapore can start from SGD 50 per month and this can go up to SGD1,500 monthly if you would like to go for exclusive services should the need arise. Some plans do cover other services like dental and outpatient treatment. So, if you are not going to stay very long in Singapore, a basic medical plan would suffice. Among the companies that offer such plans include:
- Great Eastern
- Tokio Marine
- Pacific Prime
- Expat Insurance
- NTUC Income