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Healthcare in Singapore is expensive, that’s no surprise for a city that has been recently appointed the most expensive city in the world by a recent study. The price of healthcare in Singapore is therefore one of the numerous reasons why expatriates buy a private health insurance when moving here. So have you ever wondered why healthcare is so expensive in Singapore?

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Private vs public sector

Healthcare in Singapore is divided in two sectors: public/restructured hospitals and private facilities, both in terms of hospitals and clinics. One of the differences between these two is the price. Expats in Singapore often opt for treatment in private healthcare facilities because of the shorter waiting times and the many additional (sometimes bordering on luxurious) services, as well as the prevalence of highly-experienced doctors from around the world. However, as with most healthcare systems, private facilities are more costly due to the fact that these services and highly in-demand doctors can set their own prices.

No subsidized rates for expats in Singapore

Expats in Singapore do not benefit from the local "social security", Medisave, or government-run health insurance schemes such as Medishield Life which are only accessible to Singaporean citizens and permanent residents (PRs). In addition to Medisave and Medishield covering a certain percentage of medical bills, public medical facilities offer subsidized prices to citizens and PRs. Therefore most public healthcare facilities in Singapore, and even some private ones, will have two rates: one for citizens and PRs and a higher one for foreigners. This is the primary reason why it's necessary for expats in Singapore to buy private health insurance.

Junior doctors vs senior doctors

In some cases, you can choose between seeing a junior doctor or a more experienced medical professional when seeking medical treatment. Of course, the more experienced the doctor, the higher their rates.

High Quality healthcare

Healthcare in Singapore is expensive but you can be sure that public and private hospitals are equipped with the latest medical technology and good furnishings, the staff is caring and highly-trained, facilities are well maintained and the whole process is efficient. The high quality of care, prevalence of all kinds of medical specialists, as well as some of the more luxurious rooms and facilities available in private hospitals, are all reasons why many foreigners from other Asian countries come to Singapore for what is called "medical tourism".

Caring and cautious doctors

Another reason that medical bills in Singapore can often be quite high is the fact that doctors are, on the whole, very caring and cautious when it comes to your health, especially in the private sector. They are very likely to suggest you to do additional tests or scans and to take a variety of medicines to make sure you will heal quickly and properly. They may also tell you that you have a (even small) possibility of having an associated condition, not because they want you to be worried but because there have been some occasions where patients have sued their doctor after developing a disease or complication their doctor didn't warn them about. If you are concerned that a further test or treatment may be excessive, do not hesitate to seek second medical opinion.

Cost of healthcare and location

The price of healthcare in Singapore is also linked to the size and the location of the clinic or hospital you visit. A family clinic in a Housing & Development Board estate in Woodlands (in the north of Singapore) is likely to charge you less than a doctor located in the Central Business District or in a more upscale, affluent neighbourhood. If higher out-of-pocket healthcare expenses are something you wish to avoid, you can try to find a public polyclinic, a private clinic outside of richer parts of the city or get a comprehensive health insurance plan which provides you with a direct billing network for outpatient care. Then you can simply go to the nearest clinic in the network.

Covering the costs of healthcare in Singapore

While healthcare in Singapore can be quite expensive, especially for expats who can't take advantage of the government-run subsidies and health schemes, a good health insurance plan can help you cover the costs of both any unexpected hospitalisations as well as offer additional benefits like outpatient treatment or maternity care. APRIL International's MyHEALTH plan not only covers your medical expenses in Singapore and around the world, but also offers you an extensive outpatient direct billing network in Asia and premiums that aren't based on your medical expenses from the previous year. Learn more about the benefits and extensive options that our MyHEALTH plan offers you, or contact our advisors today to see how they can tailor MyHEALTH to suit your needs.

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