Health Insurance for Expatriates in Singapore
Welcome to our country guide page providing economic, healthcare and health insurance information to expatriates living in Singapore.
The republic of Singapore in South East Asia, is one of the very few remaining city-states around the world. The state sits at the southern-most tip of Asia and to the south of Malaysia:
Singapore is a global commercial hub and has been ranked as the easiest place to do business for nine consecutive years by the World Bank:
- Area: 718.3km sq.*
- Population (total): 5,469,700*
- Expat population: 740,000**
- Life expectancy: 79 years for men. 84 years for women.*
*2014 YN Bank figures
** Finaccord 2013 – Global Expatriate report
A useful summary of country information and data on Singapore can be found here.
Healthcare in Singapore
Singapore has one of the highest standards of medical care across Asia and is known as Asia’s regional centre of medical excellence. With an efficient and extensive system, in 2000 the World Health Organisation report ranked the country’s healthcare as 6th best in the world. In 2014, a more recent report from Bloomberg ranked Singapore’s healthcare system as the most efficient globally.
Healthcare provision in Singapore mainly falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health. High quality public and private healthcare is widely available, although they may differ in the services offered and waiting times. Every working or self-employed Singaporean who is a permanent resident must buy medical insurance through a state insurance scheme called Medisave. In addition to Medisave, there is an additional state “top-up” insurance plan called MediShield. Medishield is designed for diseases that are more chronic in nature – in essence a national insurance scheme for major illnesses not covered by Medisave.
Private medical insurance in Singapore
For the 740,000, expats living and working (the majority being of Chinese origin), private medical insurance is not mandatory, but it is recommended. Most expatriates have private health insurance, either as individuals or as part of a company scheme provided by their employer. Expatriates can use public healthcare facilities but are not entitled to any government healthcare subsidies.
Unlike many countries, in Singapore expatriates do not have to register with just one GP but are able to visit different ones, and most offer a walk-in service so there is no need to make an appointment. For those who need inpatient services they can choose between different types of rooms, but they will be charged 30% more for medical fees in hospitals compared to citizens and permanent residents.
Private medical insurance is purchased by those wishing to reduce waiting times for medical treatment – particularly that of a more elective nature – and potentially enhance the standard of care received. Expatriates will often buy international private medical insurance as this type of cover is transportable should the insured travel or relocate to a different country.
Important health information before you go
Before travelling to Singapore it is important to know the different types of health risks that you may be exposed to. Every country has its own health issues, endemic diseases and unique problems so pre-travel checks are essential. Generally, Singapore is a modern safe country with excellent healthcare and facilities in place, however there are certain requirements that expats and short-term visitors need to be aware of.
For extended trips or moves abroad, vaccinations are usually required. Tetanus is currently the only mandatory vaccination required before entering Singapore. The table below provides a useful snapshot:
|Yellow Fever||No (unless recently visited an affected area)|
For up to date information on vaccination requirements in Singapore, click here.
The risk catching of malaria in Singapore is extremely low, but as in many urban areas of South East Asia Dengue fever can be a concern. Dengue fever is spread by the Aedes genus of mosquito, and symptoms include a rash, fever, headaches and pain in muscles and joints. In a small percentage of cases, the disease can be life-threatening. There is no vaccine so the risk can only be minimised by reducing exposure to mosquito bites. Covering up is a good idea, as is use of a repellent – most local brands include only citronella, so DEET-based repellent (which is generally more effective) should be brought from home if required. For more details check this out.
When taking drugs overseas from your home country, it’s important to find out if there are any restrictions. Medicines available in your home country will not always be obtainable in your new destination and may have different names, ingredients and restrictions. This website provides a useful guide to drugs around the world.
Before leaving home, have a thorough health check-up to detect any potential health problems. If possible this should be carried out at least two months in advance to permit time for any necessary treatment or pre-planning before departure.
Taking care of any special needs
If you are an expatriate and you or a family member has an existing or special health condition, you will need to determine if and how it can be adequately treated in Singapore. Regulations and care for those with physical or mental disabilities can vary greatly from country to country. It is vital to find out about any potential barriers from the outset. The first point of contact should be your consulate or embassy and ask your insurer if you hold an international health insurance plan.
For a comprehensive list of consulates and embassies in Singapore please click here.
Food hygiene in Singapore
Food hygiene is generally of a high standard in Singapore, particularly now that most individual street stalls have been closed down in favour of hawker centres. As always it’s safer to avoid raw vegetables, shellfish and reheated foods, and to wash unpeeled fruit. Tap water in Singapore is safe to drink and Hepatitis A infection is rare, but not unknown, so a vaccination may be considered.
995 is the emergency number to call in Singapore if you require an ambulance. To contact and find the state-run Singapore General Hospital on Outram Road – Telephone: 6321 4311. This facility receives emergency cases and health care is exceptionally good. Pharmacies can easily be found throughout the island – particularly the Watson’s and Guardian chains – and pharmacists should be able to provide advice about minor ailments.
Private and public hospitals in Singapore provide an excellent standard of services that are highly regarded by expatriates and those living in neighbouring countries. In total there are 29 hospitals and speciality centres. These facilities can be categorised as follows:
Several hospitals are equipped with state of the art medical equipment and are benchmarks in delivering the very top healthcare standards including; the Singapore General Hospital, the Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Information on the main hospitals in Singapore can be seen here:
- Singapore General hospital
- Tan Tock Seng Hospital
- National University Hospital
- Changi General Hospital
- Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
- Alexandra Hospital