Cost of Health Insurance report 2017: Where Singapore ranks

cost of health insurance

The 2017 edition of Pacific Prime’s Cost of Health Insurance report has been released. This 3rd annual edition of the report contains a whole host of valuable information related to the costs of international private medical insurance (IPMI). In particular, the report has some in depth information on the cost of such health insurance in Singapore, how the nation’s performance has compared to others in Asia, and why Singapore has moved up a spot in the rankings to now be the third most costly location for IPMI worldwide. We will provide an overview of the report’s findings below, as well as a link where you can download the report for your own perusal.

Cost of Health Insurance report 2017

Before entering the specifics of the data within, it’s good to discuss the nature of the report itself. The report examines the cost of IPMI in 100 countries that are spread all across the world. It does this by analyzing the real prices of IPMI policies from ten different major international insurance companies. (Read the report to find out which ones.) What’s more, not only a single type of plan was used, but 3 different levels of coverage.

Also taken into consideration are the costs of plans for different demographics that make up each insurer’s client base. These demographic groups include single individuals, married couples, families of four, and retired couples. Considering all these various aspects of IPMI plans is necessary to give the clearest possible picture of the global cost of health insurance.

Global results

Utilizing the demographics stated above, we can see what the difference is between the costs of health insurances in the most expensive and least expensive countries. This year, as can be expected, the United States was by far the most expensive country for IPMI, while the countries tied for the lowest cost are Angola, Ethiopia and Mali. Let’s look at the spread (All prices listed in USD):

Demographic Highest cost average Lowest cost average Difference
Individuals $9,818 $3,490 $6,328
Couples $19,102 $6,719 $12,383
Families $28,857 $9,982 $18,875
Retirees $21,119 $7,918 $13,201

 

As you can see, the spread between these costs is very significant. As well, we can see that, on a per capita basis, the older the insured is, the higher the cost of insuring them.

Other interesting points from the report that are not reflected in the above table are as follows:

  • Compared to the previous year, many countries actually saw their average cost of health insurance fall. To be clear, it is by far more common for costs to increase year-over-year.
  • The Southeast Asian region continues to see costs rise. The region now has five countries in the report’s top 20 most costly countries.
  • US IPMI premiums increased by 14% year-over-year.
  • Numerous countries had the same premiums as others in their region. This is part of a continuing trend of insurers lumping countries with similar demographics and risk factors together when setting premiums.

Find out more information about the global cost of health insurance, like an in depth analysis of the main drivers of premium increases over the past year, by downloading the report today.

Cost of health insurance in Singapore

It would have been prudent to discuss the 5 countries with the most expensive cost of health insurance in the previous section, but as it has special application to our analysis of Singapore’s health insurance costs, let’s take a look at it here:

Rank Country Average Cost (USD) % of highest cost
1 US 19,724 100%
2 Hong Kong 12,585 63.8%
3 Singapore 10,732 54.4%
4 China 10,695 54.2%
5 Canada 10,263 52.0%

 

If you are familiar with previous editions of the report, you may look at the first two countries listed and wonder if you were reading last year’s report. That’s because the United States and Hong Kong remain the number one and two most costly countries for IPMI, respectively. However, we do see a difference between last year and this year with regards to the third spot, as Singapore has managed to surpass China to enter the top three. So how did this happen?

One major factor that has sent tremors through the Singapore insurance market over the past year has been the introduction of MediShield Life. This new type of policy, which is not available to those in Singapore without citizenship or PR status, now requires that pre-existing conditions be covered. This requirement has lead to an increase in the utilization of the healthcare system by people with pre-existing conditions, which has subsequently raised medical costs due to the increase in demand. This has subsequently left insurers pushing to raise premiums in order to cover the costs of treating such conditions.

Another important reason for Singapore’s increase is the continuing issue of the “silver tsunami”, which is the effect that an ageing society is having on the city-state and its healthcare system. Much like the previous factor, this issue is putting more of a burden on the Singapore healthcare system every year. Also similarly to the MediShield Life factor, an aging Singapore leads to higher demand for healthcare, as older Singaporeans generally need medical assistance more often. This leads to higher medical costs, and insurers raise premiums to compensate.

There are actually two additional reasons that Pacific Prime sees explaining Singapore’s increase in the report ranking. Want to know what they are? Download the report today to find out.

Get the report

There is potentially valuable information in the Cost of Health Insurance report 2017 that anyone with private health insurance in Singapore can use. This is especially true for expatriates living in the city-state, as they are more likely to possess the international private medical insurance that is specifically used in the report. If you are interested to get all of the details, be sure to download the report today. Just provide a few details and you will gain access to information on the cost of health insurance in 100 countries!

Pacific Prime launches new corporate website for group clients

corporate website article

Last month, our parent company Pacific Prime launched their new highly-anticipated corporate website – an online hub for companies and groups of any size searching for the most optimal and sustainable corporate insurance solutions. Click here to visit the new corporate website today, or read on to learn more about Pacific Prime’s new site and find out why they are the broker of choice for over 500,000 clients worldwide.

Tailored company insurance solutions

Our parent company’s new corporate website is a one-stop shop for all company insurance solutions. With almost 20 years of experience working alongside the best insurers in the world, Pacific Prime prides themselves in their reputation as the broker of choice for over 500,000 clients worldwide. Operating from their seven office locations throughout Asia and the Middle East, Pacific Prime advises on a full range of bespoke employee benefits and group insurance solutions, including:

  • Employee health insurance
  • Wellness
  • Dental
  • Life and long-term disability insurance
  • Property
  • Employer’s liability
  • Group travel
  • Public liability
  • And more

What makes Pacific Prime shine?

In recognition that each company and group’s corporate insurance needs are different, Pacific Prime embraces a unique “hands on” methodology throughout their consulting, policy broking, and plan administration processes to ensure that their clients get the best group insurance and employee benefits solutions that meet the unique needs of each and every group. Embodied by their client-centric broker framework model, Pacific Prime’s clients are truly at the centre of everything that they do.

 

Pacific Prime's broker framework

And that’s not all. On top of exceptional service, Pacific Prime has their very own in-house developer team who are dedicated to optimizing the free tech solutions they offer their corporate clients; making it a breeze for members to deal with all aspects of claims and plan administration. With Pacific Prime, you can take full advantage of:

  • Census and premium management/ accounting tools;
  • Pacific Prime’s claims management software;
  • A document management platform.

Pacific Prime’s longstanding partnerships

Through Pacific Prime’s unique service approach, they have formed longstanding partnerships with the world’s leading insurance providers as well as the clients they serve. Read on to learn more about their partners, or click here to visit the partners page on the new corporate website.

Insurers

Pacific Prime’s impartial nature means that they are not beholden to any particular insurer. Rather, they strive to find the best provider and plan for your unique needs. Some of the 60+ insurers they work with include:

  • A+ International
  • ACE
  • Aetna
  • Allianz
  • Aviva
  • AXA
  • Bupa
  • Cigna
  • Generali
  • IntegraGlobal
  • IMG
  • MSH International
  • Now Health International
  • Ping An
  • Swisscare
  • Vanbreda
  • William Russell
  • And more

Clients

From multinational corporations to small businesses and startups, Pacific Prime works with clients in almost every industry, including:

  • Financial service firms
  • Schools
  • Legal firms
  • Engineering companies
  • Oil and gas
  • FMCG companies
  • And many more

Downloadable company insurance resources

The new corporate website also features a number of FREE company insurance resources, which were created to educate corporate clients on various key aspects of insurance and benefits, as well as how Pacific Prime can help optimize their corporate clients’ insurance solutions. To visit their downloadable resources page, click here.

Got any more questions? Be sure to contact the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime Singapore today.

Brand new Singapore maternity insurance guide released

Singapore maternity insurance guide article

Pacific Prime Singapore is happy to announce the release of our brand new Maternity Insurance Guide – 2017. Featuring a summary of all the key information our team of experts (and moms!) have gathered over the past 10 years in Singapore, the new guide is a valuable resource for all future parents-to-be looking to learn more about the cost of giving birth in Singapore and the maternity insurance options available. Click here to download your FREE copy of the highly-anticipated maternity insurance guide today.

About our new maternity insurance guide

Starting a family can be a very rewarding yet stressful experience. There are undoubtedly many things that you will need to plan for and do your research on. To help make things easier for you, the new maternity insurance guide covers everything you need to know about:

  • The best hospitals for maternity;
  • The cost of giving birth in Singapore;
  • Important maternity insurance terms;
  • The ins and outs of maternity insurance;
  • Zika and maternity insurance implications;
  • And more.

The high cost of maternity in Singapore

One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to dealing with pregnancy in Singapore is, of course, “how much does it cost?” There are a number of expenses to consider, including delivery, pre-natal, and post-natal costs.

Delivery costs

As can be expected, costs at private facilities are often much higher than their public counterparts. However, most expatriates do not have access to the subsidies offered in public hospitals, which are only granted to Singaporean nationals and permanent residents. As of January 2017, private hospital costs ranged from SGD 6,012 to SGD 12,061 for standard delivery and SGD 8,775 to SGD 18,114 for C-section delivery. Please note here that these costs do not take into account additional expenses like anesthetists and doctor’s fees, which would be added on top of the delivery cost.

Pre-natal expenses

As each pregnancy and mom-to-be is different, there is no set amount of required consultations or scans during pregnancy. It is therefore difficult to provide an accurate figure for pre-natal expenses. Our employees and clients would usually indicate overall costs ranging from SGD 4,000 to about SGD 8,000 as an estimate for a pregnancy without any complications.

Post-natal expenses

Typically speaking, post-natal expenses are often very limited if labour and delivery went well. However, complications such as heavy bleeding or complications associated with the newborn (e.g. premature birth) could arise, which would add significantly to your post-natal expenses. For instance, NICU costs can reach exponential amounts above SGD 150,000.

The ins and outs of maternity insurance in Singapore

As with many insurance products out there, it can be tricky navigating through all the plans available. In our new maternity insurance guide, we go through everything that you should know about maternity insurance, including what you should be aware of before buying, the coverage options to look out for, and more. In particular, the new guide provides in-depth information on:

  • Maternity waiting periods and why it’s of paramount importance that coverage must be secured well ahead of conception.
  • The most important insurance terms and coverage items.
  • Coverage options to look out for, including underwriting of the newborn, coverage for vaccinations, and more.
  • How health insurance policies cover Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that pregnant mothers can pass to their fetuses, which could potentially result in developmental conditions that require lifelong medical care.

Download the new maternity insurance guide today

To get the answers to all your maternity-related questions, be sure to download our maternity insurance guide today. We’ve also launched our new Singapore Health Insurance Guides section, which includes a number of other valuable resources designed to simplify health insurance for our clients.

Got more questions? Contact our helpful advisors today, who are on hand to answer all your questions, offer impartial advice, and give you a free quote.

Mandatory malpractice insurance could be coming for Singapore

malpractice insurance represented by a judge banging his gavel down in front of a stethoscope

A proposal is being considered by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and the Ministry of Health that may make securing malpractice insurance mandatory for doctors. Treatment can be risky for both patients and medical staff, all of whom work hard to avoid mistakes. The reality is that sometimes errors are made by doctors and medical staff, and such errors can be quite costly, and not just in terms of dollars and cents. This week, Pacific Prime Singapore looks at what’s being considered by the health authorities, and how doctors’ insurance can affect your health costs.

Coverage to protect doctors from lawsuits

Things that go wrong in the medical profession can often lead to some really major corrections. Doctors take their responsibility for people’s lives very seriously, but they aren’t immune to making mistakes from time to time. What malpractice insurance protects doctors from is the financial obligations that arise from having a lawsuit brought against them by patients. Such insurance covers both the costs of going to court over malpractice, but also any reimbursement ordered by the courts should they find in favor of the patient.

Consider the case of a patient who sued his private-sector surgeon after something went wrong during bariatric surgery. The weeks of corrective operations and treatments came to a final bill of SGD 500,000, something the patient sought from the operating surgeon through a lawsuit. The case was settled for a sum of SGD 200,000 (paid in one SGD 100,000 lump sum and a 3,000 per month arrangement after) and a public apology. Why wasn’t the patient successful in seeking the full amount? The surgeon lacked the money to pay and didn’t hold insurance.

The problem for the doctor and the patient, in this case, is that malpractice insurance is not required to practice. Not by Singaporean law, nor by any SMC conditions. However, the Council admits that current legislation arrangements do allow for them to make insurance mandatory of their members should they wish to institute such a regulation. While most Singaporean doctors do indeed hold insurance for their own peace of mind, cases such as the one mentioned are leading the SMC and Ministry to consider their options.

The impact of malpractice insurance on the cost of healthcare

No matter which way you look at it, malpractice in the medical profession impacts the cost of healthcare. In 2012, medical malpractice payouts in the US reached a whopping USD 3 billion, something Texas A&M University’s Corpus Christi campus says affects patients across the country. Physicians and medical experts have argued that malpractice claims lead to escalating health costs, as hospitals, staff, and insurance companies are increasingly sued for liabilities reaching into the millions of dollars and higher.

These costs, as well as increasing malpractice insurance premiums for doctors, all trickle down in some way to the bills that patients can rack up after receiving treatment. A hospital saddled with a large malpractice settlement for patient may look to recoup the costs by increasing healthcare and treatment prices for others. As discussed in our annual International Private Medical Insurance Inflation – 2017 report, higher costs for doctors and hospitals often mean higher costs for insurers and the insured.

The flipside, however, is that doctors who don’t have adequate insurance also put financial pressure on the health system. This can be from lumping extra, unnecessary treatment costs onto patients to potentially leaving hospitals themselves to foot the bill when neither a patient nor doctor can pay for corrective operations. In the same Texas A&M article, the university also mentions how doctors may engage in “defensive medicine”, which is overusing costly tests and diagnostics in order to avoid potentially litigious outcomes in medical care.

Mandatory insurance for doctors: what it means for Singaporean healthcare

At this stage, the SCM and Ministry of Health are only considering what a Singapore with mandatory malpractice insurance for doctors might mean. The country is highly regarded for having an efficient and innovative healthcare system, so a move to roll out a mandatory insurance policy is likely to be well planned and thought-out. That said, it’s also likely that requiring such insurance coverage from doctors will indeed impact the cost of healthcare in Singapore, as well as the cost of insurance.

With the way malpractice incidents put financial strain on the doctors and hospitals who are required to meet them, the more appropriate questions might be: just how will doctor errors cost Singaporean citizens and residents in the future? Will costs be through passed via doctors’ insurance costs, or via trickled down hospital price increases? Whatever the method, any pressure on healthcare prices will inevitably end up hitting the wallets of the end users of health services. In order to financially secure your ability to afford care, it’s worth considering health insurance.

Health insurance in Singapore

In our newest Cost of International Health Insurance – 2017 report, Singapore has already surpassed China to become the second most expensive country for insurance in Asia (more on this report next week). If mandatory malpractice insurance kicks in for Singaporean doctors, it means that the already expensive region will likely see some upward pressure with regards to medical and insurance prices. The way to find the best deals on health insurance is to use an expert broker like Pacific Prime Singapore.

Our team of expert consultants have been providing clients with the sort of health coverage they need, for a price that works within their budget. When it comes to doctor malpractice, having health insurance provides more than just financial protection. As well as covering any costs of corrective procedures following doctor error, insurance companies themselves will usually take action against a doctor or hospital to recover the costs attributed to your care; meaning you’re free to recover while they undertake all the legal proceedings.

For a free quote or some friendly advice, contact the team at Pacific Prime Singapore today.

Fighting childhood obesity in SG: Healthier meals now offered in schools

childhood obesity article

Mainstream schools in Singapore will now be serving healthier meal options, as part of a wider initiative to encourage better eating habits and fight rising childhood obesity rates in the city-state, which have increased from 10 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2016. Announced on 17 July in a press release by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Education (MOE), under the Healthy Meals in Schools Programme (HMSP) canteen stall operators at schools must now follow a set of food service guidelines to curb consumption of food and beverages high in sugar, fat, and salt content.

The HMSP came from recommendations by NurtureSG, an inter-agency task force led by the Minister of State for Health Dr. Lam Pin Min and Minister of State for Education Dr. Janil Puthucheary to enhance health outcomes among children and youth. Today, our article looks at childhood obesity in Singapore, and uncovers everything you need to know about the new Healthy Meals in Schools Programme.

Childhood obesity: A growing concern in Singapore

While hereditary and cultural factors certainly do have a part to play in making children more susceptible to developing obesity, lifestyle habits also play a very significant role in Singapore’s rising childhood obesity rates. 30% of children in Singapore are categorized as being overweight, and while many Western countries have relatively higher rates of overweight children (e.g. in the US, where it is around 50%), the gap between Singapore and other Western countries is slowly narrowing.

Rising obesity rates are a huge concern, as it can lead to a whole host of other health complications that may occur either during childhood or later on in life. Common complications include diabetes, hypertension, heart conditions, and other issues like sleep apnea and joint pains. Additionally, certain types of kidney, gut and thyroid cancer have their roots in childhood obesity.

What’s more, children with obesity are also more likely to be obese as adults. For instance, children who become obese at 2 years of age have a 50% chance of being obese as adults. Those who develop obesity during their teenage years have a 70% chance of being obese as adults. These alarming figures all point to the need for children to start developing healthy lifestyle habits at a young age.

Healthy Meals in Schools Programme overview

Under the HMSP, canteen vendors at schools must now serve healthier food options to kids, and will need to observe the following guidelines (to read it in full, click here):

  • Every meal must contain food from these four food groups: brown rice/wholemeal bread, fruit, vegetables, and meat/ vegetarian protein (e.g. tofu). Meals should also have at least two heaped dessert spoonfuls of vegetables, and at least half a serving of fruit.
  • Include whole grains, e.g. white rice should be mixed with brown rice or another rice of choice.
  • When preparing food, use skinless poultry/ lean meat.
  • When high-fat ingredients are used in preparing food and beverages (e.g. coconut cream), at least half of the required amount of such ingredients should be replaced with a low fat alternative (e.g. low fat yoghurt).
  • Fattening and oily sauces/ soup should not be served unless upon request.
  • Snack stalls must only sell homemade snacks, or commercial snacks that have the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) or HCS equivalent.
  • The canteen area must have at least two regularly maintained water coolers.
  • Beverages and desserts sold in canteens should contain less sugar. The specific guidelines on maximum sugar levels for different drink types are:
Drink type Sugar level (per 100 ml)
Asian drinks/ tea ≤ 6g
Juice drinks ≤ 6g
Carbonated drinks ≤ 7g
Sports drinks ≤ 6g
Dairy/ soya/ malted drinks ≤ 6g
Yoghurt/ cultured milk drinks ≤ 7g
Pure fruit/ vegetable juices ≤ 12.5g (no added sugar)

Under the scheme, canteen stall operators were also trained by nutritionists and chefs on healthier cooking methods, like baking and grilling. At certain schools, students can pay around 10 to 30 cents more for the cost of healthier ingredients and extra fruit portions with their meals.

Other children’s health programmes in Singapore

Besides addressing the issue of poor diet choices and the rise in childhood obesity rates, in 2017 a number of other initiatives were rolled out to address various other youth health-related focus areas, including physical activity, mental health, and adequate sleep.

For instance, to encourage children to exercise, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) launched its pilot Active and Healthy Weekends programme between January and April this year, where over 2,200 parents and children participated in its family fitness activities held at various community sites. To address mental health, the HPB and MOE have started providing mental health training courses to school educators. The HPB also launched a microsite to education parents about the importance of adequate sleep in children.

Final advice

We all know how important it is to protect the health and wellbeing of our children. As such, securing the right health insurance coverage for your children will ensure that, should they require medical treatment, they have access to the best facilities in Singapore. To learn more about your children’s health insurance options, why not give the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime Singapore a call? With years of experience advising expats and their families in Singapore, you can be rest assured that we will match you with the best health insurance solutions for your needs. If you’ve got any questions, or would like to get a free quote and plan comparison, get in touch with us today.

Healthy ageing: looking after yourself in your 50s

50 plus couple enjoying life representing healthy ageing

Getting older is a beautiful thing and taking care of your health is key to enjoying your later years to the fullest. We all know that part of the ageing process is noticing changes in your body. What many may not have considered is what lifestyle adjustments you might need to make to when that time comes. As Singaporeans are getting older, this week Pacific Prime Singapore discusses the ins and outs of your golden years and tips for healthy ageing.

Common health concerns for those over 50

When you’re in your teens, acne may have been a particularly frustrating change for your body. You might have felt invincible in your twenties, before your thirties had you feeling a little softer around the edges. By our forties, we’re starting to notice a bit more of the wear and tear in our bodies; the wobbly knee from years of tennis, the bad back from carrying around young children. When you hit your fifties, there are a number of health risks and concerns that become greater than before:

  • Higher blood sugar levels
  • Anxiety
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Vision changes
  • Chronic pains such as arthritis, back pain, and tendonitis
  • Digestive issues
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Hair and hearing loss
  • Higher cholesterol, blood pressure, and increased risk of heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bladder issues
  • Prostate problems
  • Menopause
  • Thyroid issues
  • Skin problems such as age spots, wrinkles, and dry skin

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The golden years don’t have to be spent worrying about which direction your health is going in if you keep in mind a few things that a 50+ lifestyle needs to stay healthy.

Tips for healthy ageing in your fifties and onwards

There’s no super secret cheat trick to maintaining a healthy life; a lot of these tips are ones that are applicable throughout your journey through life. However, if you haven’t considered these much before and your fifties are around the corner, it’s probably a good idea to think about them now.

Make good nutrition choices

As you get older, your metabolism slows and so will your dietary intake needs. Reducing your daily caloric intake whilst boosting your nutrient-rich foods can be a great way to adjust your eating for a healthier life. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, as well as low-fat dairy products and fish are all options that can help with healthy ageing; reducing your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

Get active with your reclaimed time

When you were in your child-rearing years, it may have been tough finding time to exercise. Those that did exercise may have reduced the intensity of their workouts to conserve energy for parenting. With your kids now out of the house, there’s no excuse for not spending your extra time getting active. Getting at least 30 to 60 minutes of decent exercise on most days of the week can help fight osteoporosis and compound the health benefits of eating well.

Maintain a healthy weight

You’re no longer like you were in your twenties, so it’s unlikely that you’ll maintain your body eating whatever you want and lazing around most days. In your fifties, gaining weight will happen much easier; especially for women going through menopause. A healthy weight in your golden years will help keep you from developing nasty diseases like diabetes.

It really is time to quit

If you haven’t quit smoking yet, your fifties is definitely time for you to do so. We know smoking isn’t easy to ditch, but if you’re smoking in your golden years it’s likely that you’ve smoked for a long time. Just because you might have had the habit for ten or more years doesn’t mean you won’t be healthier for quitting. Your local GP can help you with smoking cessation if you need the assistance.

Everything in moderation

You’ve made it through the majority of your working life and, by this time, you’re probably now looking forward to enjoying some of life’s vices uninhibited; it might be chocolate or alcohol or something more. Unfortunately, these guilty pleasures need moderation more than ever in your fifties as the effects can often be much stronger and longer lasting than when you were younger.

Sleep more, stress less

It’s true that you can often feel like you need less sleep as you get older, however don’t be confused into thinking that you can run healthily off little sleep. Sometimes not sleeping can be a sign that something isn’t right, so check in with your GP if you feel run down. Stress can also speed up the ageing process, so it’s important to keep your mental health in check. Sleep can affect stress and anxiety levels; don’t ignore your body’s warning signs!

Get checked and tested as often as you need to

In addition to keeping an eye on your lifestyle, another key to healthy ageing is accepting that you’ll need to have more and regular health checks. Routine examinations for those in their fifties are extremely common these days as people recognize the importance of catching illnesses early. These can include:

  • Physical exams
  • Dental exams
  • Eye exams
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Cholesterol screening
  • Diabetes testing
  • Skin exams
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Breast, pelvic exams; mammograms, Pap, HPV, and bone density tests for women
  • Testicular exams and prostate screening for men

The frequency of each test will vary and likely will become more regular as you get older. It’s worth also checking you are current with your immunizations too as your immune system can be weaker in your later years.

Review your health insurance coverage

As you get older, your risks and health needs change; so should your insurance coverage. The limits and benefits of your current plan may not actually fit as well as it used to. You could be more financially stable and the idea of a deductible or excess isn’t unaffordable. It may also be that the plan you have today might not cover some of the treatments and procedures that are associated with conditions and illnesses that commonly develop in your fifties.

The best way to reevaluate your health insurance in contrast with your changing needs is to talk with an experienced insurance broker. Pacific Prime Singapore’s team of expert consultants are well acquainted with ensuring that plans meet the needs of our clients, regardless of the period in life they’re in. We’ve been connecting people with the best health insurance solutions for almost 20 years, and we’re doing it in both Singapore and around the world.

For some helpful advice on healthy ageing, reviewing your healthcare coverage, or simply to get a better deal now that you’re moving into your golden years, contact the fantastic team at Pacific Prime Singapore today!

Orthodontics in Singapore and your dental insurance

Over the past half decade or so dental health in Singapore has become increasingly more important to residents in the city. For example, SingHealth reported that in their Financial Year – 2015 they saw a total of just over 383,400 dental related visits to National Dental Singapore related clinics. Up from just over 360,500 the year before. This doesn’t even take into account the number of visits at private clinics. Of these visits, it is certain that a good percentage of them are for orthodontic related work. Here, Pacific Prime Singapore takes a look at orthodontics and your dental insurance in Singapore.  

What is orthodontics?

Before we look into the cost and whether orthodontic work is covered by insurance it would first be a good idea to define what exactly orthodontics is. Generally speaking, this is a specialized type of dental care that deals specifically with correcting teeth or jaws that are unaligned.

In the vast majority of cases, orthodontic work is related to the application of braces to align teeth. In other cases, you will see retainers or splints that help to train the jaw to close or realign in a more natural way.

You might remember as a kid having to go see the orthodontist about braces or having a friend wearing those silver rail track-like appliances on their teeth when they were teens. In truth, orthodontic work, while typically done in childhood, can be carried out at any time and can be used to correct things like:

  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crooked teeth
  • Weird spacing with teeth
  • And more

In many cases it might not seem like correcting your teeth is necessary. But, according to the Association of Orthodontists (Singapore) “patients must be aware that an incorrect bite/malocclusion may sometimes compromise dental health and a course of orthodontic treatment can prevent future problems.” Beyond that crooked teeth are harder to keep clean which could lead to increased dental work in the future.

How much does orthodontic work cost in Singapore?

Like all other dental care and medical care for that matter, the cost of orthodontics in Singapore will vary depending on the clinic you go to. In general, there are two options for care:

  • Public clinics – Clinics run by the SingHealth and the National Dental Center of Singapore.
  • Private clinics – Private clinics run by dentists and practitioners.

When it comes to costs, you will find that they can vary depending on not only which clinic you go to but also the type of care you receive. Generally, the most common type of orthodontic care received is braces. According to an article posted in 2014 on the National Dental Center Singapore’s website, “In general the fees for braces range from $3,000 to $4,870 at public institutions and $3,480 to $8,000 at private dental clinics”

At the time this article was written, the Ministry of Health’s dental fee website was not working so more up-to-date fees are not currently available. That said, we have looked at the fees at a number of private clinics. Below are some costs for common orthodontic treatments:

Metal braces (SGD) Ceramic braces (SGD) Invisalign (SGD) Initial consultation (SGD)
Parkway Dental $4,140 and up $4,640 and up From $5,550 for light (some of the mouth) to $7,500 for full mouth. Included in packages
iDental Starting from $3700 – $6000, depending on condition of teeth $220 including X-rays
TLC Dental Centre From $3,900 NA From $5000 NA
T32 Dental From $4,750 From $5,750 From $8,000 $107 + $160.50 – $321.00 for X-rays
Advanced Dental From $3,388 From $4,888 NA Included in packages

The website TwentyTooth also provides more information on orthodontic related treatment costs.

Is orthodontics in Singapore covered by Medishield?

From the prices above, it is clear that orthodontics in Singapore is not cheap. This can be made even more so should you have more than one child or person in your family who needs to receive treatment.

While Permanent Residents and Citizens in Singapore have access to Medishield which can be used to offset the costs of regular dental treatment, this plan can not be used for orthodontic work. This means that should you need to see an orthodontist you will be paying out of pocket, or need to secure insurance.  

What about dental insurance?

Dental insurance is available in Singapore, however, it is rare to impossible to find a stand-alone dental insurance plan. Instead, you will need to secure a health insurance plan with dental cover added onto it.

In general, there are two types of dental insurance coverage available with health insurance plans:

  • Routine dental – covers regular dental treatment like cleaning, x-rays, fillings, etc.
  • Major dental – covers more expensive treatments like orthodontics, bridgework, gingivitis treatment, etc.

What is the best option?

In other words, if you are looking for dental insurance that covers orthodontics you will need to look for a plan that covers major dental. These plans are usually more costly as the care they cover tends to be on the higher end of costs.

When you do start looking for dental insurance it is important to know a few things. Firstly, almost all health plans with dental coverage will include waiting periods of 6 to 12 months for more costly treatment. This time must pass before the insurer will accept claims.

You should also be aware that many plans that cover orthodontics in Singapore work on a reimbursement model, meaning you will be required to pay first and then submit a claim to the insurer. Other plans will also include strict limits on this type of care so it is important to read and understand the plan’s terms and conditions before purchasing it.

If you are looking for dental cover in Singapore, why not give Pacific Prime Singapore a call? Our knowledgeable team of insurance experts can help you find a plan that meets your needs today.

What you need to know about allergies in Singapore

What you need to know about Allergies

Whether it’s itching, sneezing, or wheezing, most of you are probably familiar with at least one of the burdensome symptoms caused by allergies. Allergies are on the rise worldwide, and Singapore is no stranger to the increasing prevalence of this chronic condition. For instance, one in three Singaporeans suffer from some form of a nasal allergy symptom, e.g. a runny, blocked, or itchy nose.

Allergic reactions can range from more manageable and common symptoms such as itchy eyes or fatigue, to more severe and even life-threatening symptoms such as near-fatal asthma attacks and anaphylactic shock, where the body’s blood pressure suddenly drops and the airways become narrow. With this in mind, the importance of accessing quality medical treatment for our allergies is definitely nothing to sneeze about.

Read on to discover everything you need to know about allergies in Singapore, and whether your health insurance covers this chronic condition.

Why are allergies increasing in prevalence?

According to an article by CNBC, the “hygiene hypothesis” may explain why more and more people are developing allergies. This theory postulates that the obsession with cleanliness and hygiene in developed nations has actually meant that children are becoming less and less exposed to infectious agents, which is why their immune systems are mistaking harmless substances as invaders. According to this theory, we’ve essentially created allergies for ourselves.

On the other hand, some scientists believe that global warming is to blame for this rising epidemic. The warmer climate is believed by some to worsen respiratory allergies. As the growing season for plants becomes longer, some scientists argue that this leads to higher pollen and allergen counts.

What is an allergy?

According to Medical News Today, “Allergies are hypersensitive immune responses to substances that either enter or come in contact with the body, such as pet dander, pollen or bee venom.” These typically innocuous substances are called “allergens”, and when your body comes across it again in the future, it will release “histamines” to counteract it. This reaction is what causes allergy symptoms.

Common allergens in Singapore

Some of the common causes of allergic reactions in Singapore include:

  • Dust mites: These tiny microscopic relatives of the spider live and multiply easily in warm and humid weather. In a large scale study of around 8,000 participants in Singapore, it was found that 80% of those surveyed had an allergic reaction to house dust mites.
  • Shellfish: As the most common food-related allergy in Singapore, shellfish allergy rates in 2014 were the only food allergy to reach epidemic proportions seen in Western countries. This is most likely because shellfish is consumed in copious amounts in this region. What’s more, in Singapore shellfish is the most common cause of food anaphylaxis in adults.
  • Galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS): GOS is a prebiotic found in most milk formulas in Asia, Europe, and the US. This type of allergy is most prevalent in older children and adults with no prior allergies to milk products. Some people may even develop anaphylaxis after consuming food and beverage products containing GOS.
  • Peanuts: Hypersensitivity to peanuts is also a worrying trend with relatively high prevalence in Singapore. At KK Hospital, Singapore, roughly one third of all food allergy patients were found to be allergic to peanuts.

Besides the above allergens, mold, other types of food (e.g. eggs, wheat containing gluten), pet dander, certain medications, and pollen are also common causes of allergies in Singapore.

Common symptoms caused by allergies

When your body encounters an allergen, the release of histamine can manifest in our bodies in a number of ways, including:

  • Skin rash
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Swollen lips
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Headache

In extreme cases, people can also develop anaphylaxis, which is more likely to happen to children with food allergies (particularly peanut allergies), and to adults who are allergic to bee stings and certain types of medication. If it’s not treated immediately, it can be fatal.

Treating allergy symptoms

Before treating your allergy symptoms, your doctor will want to know what’s causing your allergies. Besides looking at your medical history and evaluating your symptoms, they may also use skin or blood tests to identify your allergens.

Typically speaking, the best way to treat your allergy is to avoid your allergens in the first place. For example, if you’re allergic to dust mites, then it’s recommended that you clean your bed sheets often and purchase dust mite proof bedding to achieve the greatest possible reduction in dust mite exposure.

Anti-histamine medications can also help manage your allergies, as it helps block the histamine that’s causing your allergic reaction. If you’ve got a nasal allergy, then administering decongestants, either in an oral or spray form, can help you breathe easier. That being said, this form of treatment can only be used for short periods.

Another method of treatment that has become increasingly popular is allergy shots. This form of treatment involves injecting the substance you are allergic to into your upper arm. The shots, which are first administered once every two to four weeks in the beginning, help your body become “desensitized” to your allergen by exposing it to increasingly higher doses of an allergen.

Does your health insurance cover allergies?

While there are a number of state of the art facilities offering allergy treatment in Singapore, it can be incredibly expensive to receive the medical care you require for allergic reactions. For instance, the treatment of severe allergic rhinitis resulting in hospitalization can cost up to SGD 8,221 at a private hospital. Additionally, hospital admission for asthma can easily set you back by SGD 9,335. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to ensure that your health insurance plan covers allergy treatment costs.

One thing you’ll need to bear in mind here is that many insurers (but not all) view allergies as a pre-existing condition, which is an ailment or illness that you’ve already had prior to joining your health insurance. If this is the case, you may find yourself ineligible for coverage. That being said, if you were unaware that you had allergies prior to joining your plan, then it is likely that you will be covered. If you have a newborn, it’s recommended that you include your child in your family health insurance plan as early as possible, so that their allergy treatment costs are covered if it develops at a young age.

If your insurer considers your allergy to be a pre-existing condition, yet you would still like to be covered, there may be options available to you. Some insurers will charge an additional premium to cover your pre-existing conditions, whereas others may impose a waiting period on your plan, which is a specified period of time that must pass before you’re eligible for coverage of your condition.

To learn more about your allergy coverage options, be sure to contact the helpful experts at Pacific Prime Singapore today.

Fitness trackers and step goals: is hitting the target enough?

walking stairs to meet step count on fitness trackers

The popularity of wearable tech has been booming in the past few years, becoming as well recognized as smartphone brands. We’ve previously talked about what to look for in a gym membership in Singapore but this week our focus is on fitness trackers. Products like the Apple Watch, Fitbit, and similar smartwatches are helping people to become more active, but are we using them correctly?

Today, Pacific Prime Singapore looks at fitness trackers, step goals, and whether or not reaching your daily step target is enough to improve your health.

Fitness and fashion: the rise of wearable tech

Watches have always been highly fashionable accessories for people, with brands like Rolex and TAG Heuer making sleek, luxury analogue wristwatches synonymous with the high-life. Digital watches gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s for their added features such as stopwatches, countdown timers, and alarms. However, this would only another step in the relationship between wearable fashion and technology.

At a stretch, we might think of the cassette Walkmans of the 1970s and 1980s as wearable tech. Chunky by today’s standards, these revolutionary devices let people carry personalized music around in a way that hadn’t been possible before. Jump past the CD walkman of the 1990s and the recent iPod, and suddenly we’re not just carrying around music, but entire computers with us during our daily routines.

Fitness trackers and smartwatches are the current apex of wearable tech, further adding to the extensive features of what a former fashion accessory can offer wearers. Users have been able to measure their daily steps taken, distance travelled, flights of stairs climbed, heart rate, as well as calories burned, all alongside the convenience of checking the time.

The sales of these devices tells of their popularity. More than 23 million units worldwide has been sold in 2016, with brands like Fitbit, Xiaomi, Garmin, and Apple shipping strong numbers. A far cry from the novelty watch calculators of old, these new, sleek fitness trackers have the active and gym-going market in mind. In fact, a previously male-focused watch market has adapted to brand these products in a more fashionable way to attract the active female market.

Why wear a fitness tracking device?

There are a number of great benefits for wearing a smartwatch; they’re the reason they’re so popular. At their most basic, fitness trackers do exactly that – monitor your activity. What’s so compelling about these devices, however, is actually in the way they support and motivate a healthy lifestyle:

  • Personal accountability: A lot of these devices come with a smartphone app that can be used to set activity and nutritional goals, and even provide alerts and reminders to help you meet them each day.
  • Social fitness: The more competitive or collaborative of consumers will get a buzz from social aspects of fitness tracker apps which allow you to share and compare your activity progress with friends and family.
  • Sleep tracking: As an added feature, many wearable devices also allow users to monitor and assess their sleep, providing statistics for time spent in deep sleep and moments of restlessness.

Fitness trackers are definitely a step in the right direction for many, helping generally sedentary people to lead much more active and healthy lives than before. However, there are some concerned that a focus on “step counting” is giving people a false sense of fitness.

Do steps matter? Why meeting your goal might not be enough

Anyone who has a fitness tracker will relate to this: settling into bed and checking their step count at 10pm, only to find they’re still 600 steps short of their 10,000 daily goal. Next thing you know, they’re up and pacing the house in the pyjamas, trying frantically to march 600 steps around the house before they can comfortably go to sleep.

It might seem funny, but it actually illustrates a key concern of health experts when it comes to fitness trackers. Counting steps is a great way to encourage activity, but what these devices don’t quite measure the intensity of a user’s exercise. Where 10,000 steps around the office is good, it’s still not nearly as effective or efficient as running 10,000 steps.

Why is that? High-intensity exercise is what helps you get fitter. You won’t work your heart rate up, pushing your muscles into a sweat, nor burn nearly as many calories if your 10,000 steps are made walking briskly from desk-to-desk each day. Remember: there are many exercises, such as lifting weights, cycling and rowing, that likely don’t give you any steps to your fitness tracker data, but absolutely will make you more fit.

What other benefits could I see from my fitness trackers?

As an insurance expert, we’ve been seeing a few developments in our industry in relation to fitness trackers and healthier lives for policyholders. Insurers are risk averse businesses and the healthier a person is, the lower their risk of needing healthcare. As a result, we’ve been seeing a growing number of examples of how people might be able to save on their health insurance.

Key examples include discounts for policyholders who meet their fitness tracker goals, company insurance plans that have activity monitoring tied into their corporate wellness plans, and insurers offering gifts and vouchers (such as Amazon gift cards) for using their smartwatches. In fact, major insurer Aetna was reported to have offered their members discounts on Apple watch purchases in order to promote client health.

What we’re also expecting, and we’ve discussed it in our International Private Medical Insurance Inflation – 2017 report released late last year, is that the benefits of fitness trackers adding to the “big data” of the health sector could be huge. Both insurers and other health sector entities (such as hospitals and government departments) could use the data to identify trends that could lead to better treatments and diagnostic tools in future.

Securing insurance in Singapore through Pacific Prime

We’re still on the lookout for insurers offering perks and benefits to fitness tracker users, however we do still have some of the best value comprehensive plans available in Singapore. Our expert team have been providing quality insurance solutions to individuals and groups in the Lion City for almost 20 years. If you’ve been thinking about buying insurance, or you’re simply looking for a better deal, contact our team at Pacific Prime Singapore today!

Electronic medical records to bring innovation boost to Singapore healthcare

woman checking her electronic medical records on a laptop and smartphone

Big changes are coming for the Singaporean health system with the government announcing a new plan to give every citizen access to their health records by 2021. The country’s Health IT Master Plan has been set and the sector is hoping that the changes brought by it will put Singapore on track to having one of the most IT-enabled healthcare systems in the world. How will electronic medical records (EMR) help make healthcare cheaper, faster and better for patients?

This week, Pacific Prime Singapore examines what these changes are, how they’ll work and, most importantly, what people can expect to see in terms of their insurance being impacted.

What benefits do electronic medical records bring?

Chief executive officer of Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), Mr Bruce Liang, announced in late May that the government would be making it easier for any doctor to see a patient’s medical history and treatments. Alongside helping avoid adverse drug interactions, storing information to a vast electronic database will also help patients better understand and manage their health themselves.

Many already have access to some of their medical information through the SingPass’s HealthHub portal, but the planned changes look set to allow people to receive complex chronic ailment monitoring in home, make it easier to move from primary to tertiary care throughout the country, as well as giving people the ability to book appointments or schedule specialist home visits using a mobile app.

For the healthcare sector itself, the amassing of health data from patients across the country drives a lot of innovation and efficiency changes. Hospitals and healthcare providers will be able to better identify trends, understand treatment success, and plan for patient care and future sector improvements. Currently, the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) system doesn’t yet include private sector info, having both sectors will benefit people and the country greatly.

As many as 19,000 patients are expected to benefit from a program launched last year to identify high risk readmissions patients. With 2,500 already identified, the program provides extra post-hospital support to help prevent their conditions from deteriorating. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong says the program has had a 70% precision rate, making it among one of the best of its type in the world.

Will these electronic medical records bring changes to health insurance?

As highlighted in our 2017 report, International Private Medical Insurance Inflation, technological advances and big data are one of the biggest potential drivers for influencing the price of insurance premiums around the world. The report recognizes that the use of technology in the health sector should go some way to creating more efficient processes for healthcare providers and insurers alike.

Already we’re seeing trends globally, just like in Singapore, where insurers, health facilities and governments are beginning to use mobile apps and online portals to make things easier for service providers and users to interact, monitor situations, and generally organize treatments and coverage. With international insurance inflation bumping up to 11.2% in Singapore, anything that can relieve pressure on premium prices would be welcome.

With regards to insurers themselves, the electronic medical records changes may hold both a number of benefits and challenges. The benefits may include shorter turnaround-times for claims, more stable pricing models with the increased knowledge and information the EMRs will bring, as well as stronger ground with which to approve or deny claims in future.

This is not without it’s challenges, however, as there may be some work required of insurers to better align their application documentation processes with what the Singapore Government might require EMR wise. There may also be adjustments to be made to those insurers with online portals should they be required, or simply opt, to provide electronic medical record access through the same service.

How the insurance sector reacts to the government changes remains to be seen but people can be assured that it’s very likely to affect the way insurers and patients interact with each other and the health sector in general.

Getting adequate coverage in Singapore

If you’re new to Singapore and you’re looking for comprehensive insurance coverage in Singapore, or you’ve been here a while and thinking about reevaluating your current coverage, then Pacific Prime Singapore can help. Our expert advisors can ensure that your healthcare coverage can work seamlessly with any new and existing electronic medical records technology in the Lion City.

For a free quote or some helpful advice, contact the team today!