Taking a look at vision insurance in Singapore

Pacific Prime vision insurance blog post

People these days are spending a great deal of time indoors, with their eyes constantly glued to their tablet devices and computer screens. This lifestyle trend in part helps explain the surge in vision conditions worldwide. This is especially true for myopia (short-sightedness), which is due to affect 5 million Singaporeans by 2050 – 15% of which will have an eye prescription above 500 degrees.

Singapore’s Asian counterparts have also been found to be heading towards a myopia epidemic. For example, 81% of teenagers in China have myopia, and 95% of school leavers in Taiwan require glasses to see into the distance. As such, the importance of maintaining eye health has been increasingly put into the spotlight. 

One of the key ways of ensuring good eye health is to have regular eye exams. There is no set price charged for eye tests, but some opticians in Singapore do charge a pretty penny, especially for more comprehensive eye checks.

Although more thorough eye tests can be costly, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to go beyond simply checking how well you can see so that early signs of more serious conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts are detected early. Fortunately, vision insurance can be a great way to cover the expensive costs associated with optical care.

The high cost of vision treatment in Singapore

Ranked as the most expensive city for expats, it’s not hard to see why healthcare costs are so high in the city, especially for the majority of expats that don’t have access to the Medisave social security system available to the city-state’s permanent residents and citizens. While you can find fairly affordable basic eye exams in Singapore, more comprehensive tests can cost a fair bit.

As can be expected, more extensive vision treatment such as eye surgeries will cost a lot more than eye tests or buying a new pair of corrective glasses. For example, LASIK surgery at a private hospital can charge up to SGD 4,820, and glaucoma surgery can cost up to SGD 6,693. Feel free to refer to the Ministry of Health website for further information on costs.

While these fees certainly are expensive, those who have secured vision insurance are able to offset some of its associated costs without breaking the bank.

An overview of how vision insurance works

Usually, people secure vision insurance as a supplementary benefit to make up for the gaps in coverage in their standard private health insurance plan. This add-on benefit, commonly referred to by insurers as a ‘rider’, will come with its own additional premium, the cost of which will depend on the plan you select and how comprehensive the benefits offered are.

If you choose to include coverage for your spouse or children, the average cost you pay per person often works out to be a bit less than the rate charged for an individual plan. Some insurers also offer standalone plans that feature mostly vision benefits, so it’s best to shop around to find which option suits you and/or your family best.

What’s normally covered?

Those who secure vision insurance can expect coverage for routine eye check-ups, frames, and contact lenses. These will be covered up to a maximum amount, and some plans will also impose a co-pay system, whereby there will be an amount that you will need to pay for accessing every optical service covered by the plan.

More comprehensive vision plans will also provide coverage for eye disorders and eye surgeries deemed medically necessary. Elective surgeries like LASIK are generally not covered, although many plans offer discounts for these types of procedures, so you’ll be able to pay a lower rate. You may also receive discounts for upgrades on frame lenses, e.g. anti-reflective coating.

Things to consider when choosing a vision insurance plan

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they are covered for everything, just because they have health insurance. All plans are different, and some plans offer a more comprehensive list of benefits than others.

This is why it’s essential to be familiar with the policy wording on your plan, and be aware of any caveats or exclusions. It can also help to talk to a broker like Pacific Prime Singapore if you’re still unsure about your plan’s limitations.

To help you find the best-fitting plan for your needs, here are a few questions you may want to ask when finding a plan:

Is there a preferred network of providers?

A preferred network of providers refers to the facilities that are contracted with your plan. If the answer to the question is yes, then it’s a good idea to check if the optometrist or ophthalmologist that you visit regularly is included in the network, as your claim will likely be rejected out right if you chose a facility outside of the plan’s network.

What’s the benefit period?

Vision insurance runs on a rolling cycle. What this means is that certain benefits can only be accessed once per a certain duration of time, i.e. one eye check every 12 months. However, the benefit period on some plans can be as long as 24 months. To ensure you get your money’s worth, be sure to access the benefits covered before the next benefit period begins.

Does the vision plan have a waiting period?

To prevent people from having an expensive procedure right after they have secured insurance, some insurers will impose a waiting period on plans. The waiting period, which usually lasts anywhere between 1 month to 24 months, is the time you will need to wait once you have purchased your plan before you are eligible for claiming any benefits.

Everyone’s vision needs are different, and there are no one-size-fits-all plans out there. That is why it often pays to have an expert’s opinion by getting in touch with an established broker like Pacific Prime Singapore so that you get the best value plan for your needs.

The ins and outs of dental insurance in Singapore

dental insurance singapore

They start off as temporary but by the time we’re adults our teeth will be the only ones we get. We depend on them for a lot; they help us eat, speak, and make our smiles look good. The fact that we can’t grown new adult teeth, however, means we should definitely prioritize their care. Dentist visits can be very expensive, even in Singapore, so we’d recommend securing some form of dental insurance while you’re there.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine: The benefits, risks and will insurance cover it?

traditional chinese medicine

Commonly shortened to TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine encompasses a wide range of traditional practices that have existed and been developed in China for more than 5,000 years. Based on the philosophy of Taoism, it views the human body differently to Western medicine practices and aims to achieve harmony and balance while promoting moderation and prevention.

The most common and widely known TCM therapies include acupuncture and traditional herbal medicines, while other features include mind-body, dietary, and massage therapies. While the West believe research into TCM’s effectiveness is generally inconclusive, many generations of people in Asia have grown up with it as their main source of healthcare and believe in its healing practices.

In Singapore, you can find TCM practitioners to treat a range of injuries, illnesses or for general health and wellbeing maintenance. We’ll be going through some basics of TCM for those of you new to Traditional Chinese Medicine, or if you’ve simply got questions about whether TCM might be covered by your insurance.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

In Singapore, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act requires that all TCM practitioners be registered and must hold a valid practicing certificate. TCM itself has four key principles:

  • Your body is an integrated whole
  • You are completely connected to nature
  • You were born with a natural self-healing ability
  • Prevention is the best cure

Its practices include acupuncture, herbal medicines, moxibustion, tui na, Qigong, and other therapies including cupping, gua sha, die-da and Chinese food therapy. For more information on what these practices entail, take a look at our main site’s page on Traditional Chinese Medicine in Singapore.

Benefits of TCM

One of the biggest draws of TCM for many people is that it is all natural. Medicine uses natural, unprocessed plants and herbs such as ginseng, mushrooms and ginko, to various other materials such as deer velvet, dried snakes and human placenta. People concerned about the processed chemicals of Western medicine may find comfort in TCM’s use of traditional raw ingredients for medicinal use.

Traditional Chinese Medicine also has a more holistic approach to healing with its four key principles guiding that treating more than symptoms is important for wellbeing. It’s not uncommon for a TCM practitioner to give both symptomatic attention through acupuncture therapy, some dietary advice, and some herbal medicine in order to treat the whole body and not just your ailment.

Risks of TCM

Of course, the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine is still largely contested in a Western academic sense. The current state of research mostly focuses on specific types of treatments such as acupuncture, Qigong and moxibustion, but never on the whole system of TCM. For traditional medicines, many countries in the West will classify Chinese-derived medicines as “dietary supplements” to separate their recognition from Western medicine.

Countries like Singapore have strong regulatory bodies set up in order to provide certification for practitioners, granting those seeking Traditional Chinese Medicine practices a bit more confidence in who they trust with their health. This is a positive for both patients and practitioners as it allows those with safe practices to continue to heal their clients, whilst maintaining their integrity as professionals.

Recently, a Straits Times article issued a warning about the dangers of using traditional medicines and cures from potentially unregistered TCM practitioners. The article included a story of a Singaporean retiree and his daughter hospitalised with drug-induced liver injury. The pair had taken Snake Powder Capsules to treat skin problems and generally increase health.

Choosing a TCM approach: Will my insurance cover it?

Insurance generally focuses on Western approaches to medicine, however many insurers have policies that will cover Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. As insurance brokers, we can’t give you medical advice on which type of treatment might be best – that’s a decision you will have to make for yourself.

What Pacific Prime Singapore can do, however, is provide you with insurance solutions that will allow you to have either Western or TCM treatment options available to you should you choose it. If you’re unsure if your current policy covers Traditional Chinese Medicine or you’re looking for a policy that can, don’t hesitate to call our expert advisors today!

Happy Chinese New Year from Pacific Prime Singapore

Chinese New Year Fireworks

The new Lunar New Year is upon us! As with any new beginning, it’s always a good time to take a look back at where you’ve been before you look towards the future. For Pacific Prime Singapore, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done over the past year and what we’ve been able to achieve for our clients. Providing great insurance plans and solid service is always our goal and, in the previous year, we’re happy with how we did.

Happy Chinese New Year message

We helped thousands of people get covered last year

The Year of the Monkey saw thousands of new clients seek out the expert knowledge of Pacific Prime advisors. Through utilizing our insurance partners, which include Aetna, AXA, MSIG and Cigna, we were able to connect our customers to a wide range of suitable and affordable health insurance plans to meet their individual, corporate and family needs. This includes a whopping 1,500 new clients in just the past four months!

Our office expanded to meet our ever-increasing demands

In order to continue to deliver results based on our members’ expectations, as well as to increase our capacity to help those who are new to our services, the Singapore office expanded in the past year to add five new staff members. These changes also coincided with the promotion of two of Pacific Prime’s outstanding staff members to leadership positions to help us ensure that your customer experience is the best in the market.

Pacific Prime Singapore promotions

Our products got more diverse as our clients needs did

We love pets as much as you do, so the Pacific Prime team introduced the ability to purchase pet insurance in Singapore in order to help cover the health costs of the extended, and sometimes fluffy, members of your family. The benefits of pet care coverage can include vet visits, medication and sometimes advertising expenses if you find your pet has gone missing. If you’re in the market to insure your family’s pet, call us today!

We received some heartfelt thanks and recognition from clients

Recently the Singapore staff were surprised to find a massive thank you hamper and some very special Chinese New Year wishes from a thankful client. While we don’t expect gifts for the work that we do, it was very humbling to receive such recognition from a client and was a great reminder for both local and international staff as to just how well respected the Pacific Prime Singapore staff are for their hard work and dedication.

We hit some fantastic staff diversity milestones

In addition to adding some great team members to the office, Pacific Prime Singapore are now able to say that their multicultural team now has 15 different nationalities that can speak ten languages! This is a fantastic achievement, which means we can help more and more people get insurance coverage in Singapore – regardless of where they are from and what language they speak!

Pacific Prime Singapore Staff

Bring on the Year of the Rooster!

The Year of the Monkey is coming to a close and, looking back, we know we have a lot to be thankful for. However, we also know that there’s still much work to do and that your needs will continue to grow and develop as the new year rolls on. We’re going to stay committed to providing you with the high quality service you’ve come to expect of Pacific Prime Singapore because, well, that’s just what we do.

From all of us here at Pacific Prime Singapore, we’d like to wish you a very happy Lunar New Year. Great prosperity and good health for the Year of the Rooster!

All About Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in Singapore

hand, foot and mouth

2016 was a tumultuous year when it came to infectious disease in Singapore. As Zika virus dominated headlines for portions of the year and dengue continued to affect thousands upon thousands of Singaporeans, people were constantly on the lookout for mosquitoes and incentivized to keep themselves and their families indoors. Another disease, however, still had a banner year despite not receiving the attention of these others: Hand, foot and mouth disease. Here, Pacific Prime talks about this disease, how it is affecting people in Singapore today, and how people can protect against it.

What is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease?

Hand, foot and mouth is a viral disease that causes sores to occur on the body. These sores can potentially be quite painful and are commonly found on and around the mouth, hands, arms, feet, legs and rear end. The disease is primarily spread through the air via sneezes and coughs, through contact with blister fluid, bodily fluids or infected surfaces, and can also be easily spread through a person’s stool, which is generally more of an issue when dealing with children. For example, contamination can occur because a child didn’t wash their hands properly, or when changing diapers.

After a person is infected, there is an incubation period of three to six days before symptoms arise. An infected individual is most contagious during the first week of having the disease. Beyond the sores, which are more noticeable, other symptoms of hand, foot and mouth include:

  • Fatigue or malaise
  • Irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Fever (usually between 38 and 39 degrees Celsius)
  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Dehydration

Some notes to add to this are that sores and blisters generally end about a week after they develop. Additionally, some people that become infected with hand, foot and mouth disease will never show symptoms, or symptoms will be very mild, but they can still transmit the disease to others all the same.

As far as worst case scenarios are concerned, while rare, hand, foot and mouth disease can lead to damage of the heart, lungs or brain.

With regards to diagnosing this disease, tests usually aren’t needed, as doctors can generally diagnose based on symptoms.

How is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease affecting Singapore?

2016 was actually one of the biggest years on record for hand, foot and mouth disease in Singapore. In the first half of 2016 there were already over 18,000 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease reported. Even now, in the first week of January 2017 alone, there were over 500 cases reported, which is higher than the number reported in the first week of 2016.  As it stands, every case of the disease in Singapore is required to be reported to the Ministry of Health. Of course, if you find that you or your child do have hand, foot and mouth disease, it is also important to report this to any person you may have come in contact with and infected.

There is a webpage provided by the Ministry of Health that lets the public know if there are any locations with an active cluster of hand, foot and mouth cases. As the time of this writing, there is just one facility that is listed as having active clusters of the disease, while none are listed as requiring a mandatory closure due to the rate of infection there.

Prevention and treatment

As alluded to above, children are generally the primary concern when it comes to hand, foot and mouth disease. This is especially true for those under the age of 5, as they are the most at risk for infection. As such, parents should be proactive about keeping children home from school when they have symptoms, so as not to infect other children. After all, hand, foot and mouth outbreaks are usually contained to a specific community, such as a school or daycare. Adequate time should also be taken to ensure that the infected person is not putting others at risk when they return to public life. Consult with a physician about the proper timing.

There is no vaccine or medicinal treatment for hand, foot and mouth, so practical measures should be taken to reduce the spread of infection. Be sure to clean often touched surfaces regularly, avoid close touching as much as possible, and both of the infected person and anyone taking care of them should be sure to wash their hands frequently.

As far as professional medical treatment is concerned, hand, foot and mouth usually does not require it. The disease will generally go away as a result of the body’s own immune system. Of course, home remedies can be used to alleviate symptoms and pain caused by hand, foot and mouth. These include:

  • Keep your child hydrated to help their body battle fever, and ease pain from a sore throat.
  • Avoid spicy or highly acidic foods to avoid irritating sores.
  • Over the counter drugs such a ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to reduce pain and fever.
  • Mouth pain can be reduced using appropriate mouthwashes or other sprays or ointments.

Pacific Prime can help

Prevention is key, but infectious disease can be a hard thing to avoid when you and your children have to go out in public, especially in a major metropolitan city like Singapore. With this in mind, it is important to make sure that your family has high quality and comprehensive health insurance, so that they can have quick access to excellent healthcare should they develop an illness like hand, foot and mouth disease. This is especially true for new expatriates living in Singapore, as they will likely not have access to the city-state’s public healthcare offerings.

To get a plan comparison of plans from major insurers in Singapore, as well as a free quote, contact the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore! They can identify the plans that best fit your needs, and answer any questions you may have.

Healthy eating in Singapore: What you need to know

Healthy eating in Singapore Pacific Prime Blog

The recent Christmas and New Year’s festivities have no doubt been a time for most people to forget about the calories and simply eat and drink to their heart’s content. But now that it’s 2017, it’s time to make some healthy resolutions, and one key healthy lifestyle change to take on this year is the adoption of a healthier diet.

Singapore has seen a progressive shift towards increasingly sedentary lifestyle patterns and hiking obesity rates – a trend that is also observable in most developed and developing countries around the world. Driven by the need to boost the health of Singaporeans, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has been initiating continuous efforts to shift eating habits and steer Singaporean residents toward picking healthier meal options, both at home and when eating out.

This week’s article sheds light on the advantages of healthy eating, healthy Singaporean meal options, and a few other things you can do to maintain good health.

Recognizing the importance of healthy eating

Healthier eating promotes a myriad of attractive health benefits, chief among them being:

Weight control

Focusing on eating foods with high nutritional value and minimizing your intake of unhealthy saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt, can help maintain a healthy body weight and significantly lower your risk of obesity. We all need calories for energy, but we need to derive our calories from nutritious foods and avoid ‘empty’ calorie foods with little to no nutritional value.

Boost your mood

Countless studies have illuminated the positive connection between healthy food and its benefits on improving your overall mood and mental wellbeing. Foods high in antioxidants (e.g. dark chocolate and blueberries) can help boost the ability of existing brain cells to communicate with each other, and also encourage the generation of neurons – thus improving overall cognitive functioning.

Combating diseases

There are a number of ways that healthy eating can combat diseases, for example:

  • Lowering your intake of sugar can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Reducing your intake of cholesterol can promote heart health, and reduce your risk of heart and coronary artery disease.
  • Eating Potassium rich foods can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

6 tips for a more balanced diet

An article published by the Singaporean HPB highlights 6 simple strategies for a balanced and nutrition rich diet. These include:

HPB guidelines on serving recommendations per food group

Eating a well-balanced diet that provides the right amount of nutrients you need. The HPB also has a handy guideline on recommended serving sizes per food group:

  • 5-7 servings per day of brown rice and wholemeal bread
  • 2 servings of fruit
  • 2 servings of vegetables
  • 2-3 servings of meat and/or other sources of protein (e.g. lentils, eggs, milk)

Eat more whole-grain foods

Eating more whole-grain foods, as opposed to refined grains such as white rice or white bread. Refined grains have gone through processing, which removes a lot of the nutrients that whole-grains offer.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

This food group is high in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try opting for more whole fruits rather than juices, and remember not to overcook your vegetables.

Eat enough protein

Eat enough protein, and try to aim for sources of protein with lower levels of fat and cholesterol.

Choose healthier oils

Consumer healthier oils (e.g. coconut oil) and try to avoid oils with high levels of trans and saturated fatty acids.

Lower your alcohol intake

Try to minimize or avoid alcohol intake – Most types of alcohol (e.g. beer) are high in calories. Try limiting your alcohol intake to no more than 2 drinks per day (for women), and 3 drinks per day (for men).

Healthy Singaporean dishes

As one of Asia’s most popular culinary capitals, Singaporean cuisine is diverse, and derived from multiple ethnic origins including Chinese, Malay, and Indian. But is Singaporean food healthy? When thinking about typical Singaporean dishes, the first dishes that often come to mind are popular hawker foods laksa, nasi lemak, and Indian rojak – all of which are high in calories and salt content.

Of course, it’s fine to indulge every once in awhile, but it’s also important to aim for healthier meal choices on a regular basis. Luckily, there are several popular Singaporean dishes that tick all the right boxes in terms of being both nutritious and incredibly tasty.

Thunder tea rice

Thunder tea rice, also known as “Lei Cha”, is a bowl of rice served with a range of vegetables, tofu and nuts, and further accompanied with a bowl of soup made of peanuts, herbs and green tea. Not only is this dish flavourful, it’s low calorie (around 430 calories per serving) and cholesterol content makes it ideal for weight management and body detoxification. To make this dish even healthier, opt for brown rice instead of white.

Sliced fish soup

Sliced fish soup, as the name suggests, is a bowl of fish broth served with vegetables and sliced pieces of fish. It’s only about 180 calories per serving, and is perfect for weight and blood cholesterol level management due to its low saturated fat and cholesterol content. One thing to be aware of is that some food stalls and restaurants may serve this dish with flavour enhancers or deep fried fish, so it’s best to double check that you’re eating the healthy version.

Teochew porridge

Teochew porridge is a bowl of rice congee served with a few side dishes of your choice – the most popular of which being steamed or fried fish, minced pork, tofu, and steamed or stir-fried vegetables. Its low fat content, high protein and accompaniment of vegetables make it a very well-balanced meal, especially when you choose your side dishes well and avoid going for salty and deep fried options.

Additional tips for maintaining a healthier lifestyle

To improve your overall good health and wellbeing, choosing healthier meal options is definitely an important habit to maintain, but for maximum health benefits, this should also be combined with a range of other healthy habits, such as:

Exercising

Exercising regularly is a great way to control weight, combat a range of diseases (e.g. heart conditions), and boost energy levels. The right type of exercise will depend on the person. For example, some people may prefer going to the gym (check out our article on gym memberships here), and some people may prefer exercising outdoors or joining a sports team. The best way to stick to your exercise routine is finding something that you actually enjoy doing.

Getting enough sleep

It cannot be stressed enough how important a good night’s sleep is for your body, especially due to its restorative benefits. When you’re sleeping, your body undergoes several processes to repair body tissues, metabolize sugar and fat, and re-energize you for the following day. An article on Huffington Post suggests that adults need at least 7 hours of sleep every day.

Don’t forget health insurance

While health insurance doesn’t directly make you healthier, many plans include a range of preventative benefits and coverage for essential checkups, so that any health conditions you may have is identified early on before it develops into a more serious or lifelong disease. If you’d like to have a chat about securing health insurance, be sure to contact one of our insurance experts today!

Insurance Inflation Report for 2017 released by Pacific Prime

insurance inflation report

Over the past many years, insurance professionals and customers alike have gained valuable insight from the yearly publication of Pacific Prime’s International Private Medical Insurance inflation report. Since the first publishing of this report, it has proved to be a valuable resource for those that would like to know what the health insurance landscape has looked like globally over the past year, as well as those who would like to glean insights into the possible future of the IPMI market.  Here, we will provide you with an overview of the information found in the report, as well as discuss how Singapore fared in it this year.

Insurance Inflation Report Sections

The bottom line for International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) worldwide throughout 2016 is that (surprise, surprise) the average cost of plans went up by 9.2%. As it happens, this inflation rate was the same exact rate found by the report for the year 2015. Also as it happens, Pacific Prime predicted that inflation would continue at about the same rate in last year’s report. Beyond these ‘macro’ level trends, however, there is a whole host of more specific information included in the report. This includes the sections below:

Insurers – The 2017 insurance inflation report continues the tradition of looking at inflation as it relates to premiums from some of the industry’s most prominent insurers. This year, the insurers included are Aetna International, Allianz Worldwide Care, AXA PPP Healthcare, Bupa Global, Cigna Global, William Russell and Integra Global.

Considering the past year’s performance of these insurers, as well as the 5 year average of the premium inflation, Pacific Prime’s IPMI report shows that inflation rates depending on plan and insurer ranged anywhere from 3.86% to 19.64%. Clearly, with such an array of different inflation rates to be found, insurers are facing different issues when it comes to the premiums, however it’s interesting to see the same average rate of inflation for two consecutive years in light of this.

Inflation drivers – Every year, Pacific Prime likes to examine the reasons behind why the inflation that we see is what it is. For this we look at market factors as recognized by our staff, as well as the insurance companies themselves.

This past year there were four key inflation drivers that we have highlighted in previous reports – new medical technology, healthcare overutilization, increased compensation for medical staff, and imbalanced healthcare resources – but there were also some new drivers that appeared, including increasing availability of technology, changing global demographics and worldwide economic uncertainty. More information on each of these points can be found within the report.

Inflation by country – Perhaps the most valuable part of this insurance inflation report for those insurance customers that read it, as opposed to those working in the insurance industries, is being able to see how much they should expect their personal insurance premiums rise based on where they live. If your premiums rise less than the average, you may feel good for choosing an insurer that is stable, while if your premiums rise at a rate much greater than the average, you may want to take a look at whether you may find better premiums elsewhere.

Like previous editions of the IPMI report, the 2017 version starts with regional analyses across Asia, the Middle East and the ‘Rest of the World’. Within Asia, six countries are used to represent the region, including Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand, while Dubai represents the Middle East and the UK, Kenya and Brazil are the examples analyzed for other parts of the world.

Singapore and Asia highlights

On a regional level, Asia – which had been on par with the rest of the world when it came to IPMI inflation in 2014 and 2015 – saw a significantly higher inflation rate than the rest of the global average in 2016. The average inflation for the region came to 9.9%. However, the regions for this climb can be found in analysis of the individual countries included in the report.

Digging into Singapore specifically, there were some interesting findings that we noticed over the past year. Despite having one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world, combined with strong governmental regulation, Singapore insurers still could not escape a rising of premiums. The average total IPMI inflation that people saw in Singapore in 2016 came to be 11.2%, which was higher than the previous year’s inflation of 9.5%. While some factors attributed to this rise in inflation from 2015 remain the same, such as government upgrades to the healthcare system, rising private healthcare fees and an ageing population, some new factors should also be considered, including medical tourism, the arrival of new High Net Worth expats and government co-opting of private healthcare facilities.

Again, the information within this article is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what can be found inside the 2017 report. For this reason, we implore you to download a copy of the report for yourself and see what other interesting facts and trends are available. Beyond that, if you have any questions at all as it related to IPMI or your own health insurance, please contact the helpful, knowledgeable experts at Pacific Prime Singapore! We’re standing by to answer your queries, as well as supply international health insurance plan comparisons and price quotations.

Choosing a gym membership in Singapore

woman with gym membership

“I need to sign up for a gym membership.” We all know that line; many of us said it in January this year, a few of us will say it again in 2017. It’s the regret we’re voicing for enjoying such an indulgent holiday season, but why not make this the year you keep to your resolution? More than shedding some extra holiday weight, working out at a gym can keep you healthy throughout the year.

In Singapore, there are a wide range of gym centers available to you. There are budget, no-frills sorts of places for simple workouts, and there are premium facilities that offer everything from state of the art equipment, to expert personal trainers and world renown group class sessions. When you’re thinking about a gym membership, there’s a few things you should keep in mind before you sign up.

Do you need a gym?

This may seem like a daft question, but we need to remember that exercise can happen anywhere! Joining a gym is a great option for a lot of people, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re already pretty active, then you’ll want to consider if the gym will help you in areas you don’t exercise. For example, if you’re an avid jogger then surely you’d rather be running outside than on a treadmill?

Similarly, if you’re the sporty type and get a lot of cardio during games and training sessions, perhaps you might only want a gym to help build strength? Asking yourself what you need and don’t need can really help you work out the type of gym you want to sign up to. A rugby player who already has good strength may instead want a gym with classes that can help build his or her flexibility to reduce the risk of injury.

What do you want in your gym membership?

Gyms and their memberships come in different shapes and sizes, so you need to be clear about your needs. The key things you’ll want to consider and take note of during visits are:

  • Cost: How much are you prepared to pay for a membership? Gyms will generally offer you a fixed-term contract of 12 or 24 months with discounts for longer terms. Keep in mind that contracts can be difficult to terminate or transfer, so giving up on the gym halfway through can be expensive.
  • Operating hours: If you’re an early bird, make sure the gym will be open before you start work. Those of you who workout best at night, check that the gym won’t close before you can get there. Always check their Saturday and Sunday hours as well in case you find you’ll workout more on weekends.
  • Equipment: Some gyms will have state-of-the-art equipment available while others may be more well worn. Also make sure that the type of equipment you need (cardio machines, free weights and weight machines, body weight equipment like swiss and bosu balls, foam rollers etc) are available to use.
  • Locations: Is the gym in a handy location to your home and workplace? Will you have access to multiple locations?
  • Shower and locker rooms: Those of you wanting a place to change before or after a workout should make sure there are facilities at the gym for this. For those that do provide changing rooms, do they have lockable storage, hairdryers and other things you’ll need for when you’re finished with your workout?
  • Support for women and parents: Gender-separate spaces can be important to some people, so always check with the gym if these are available. If you’re a parent, you might find that the gym may have an area for your children to stay while you workout. This can make it easier for you to make time in your busy schedule to exercise.
  • Personal training: Do you want to use a personal trainer either regularly or as needed? Most gyms will have trainers on hand but some of the more no-frills facilities may not.
  • Group fitness classes: The ability to take group classes such as yoga, pilates or aerobics may be a big priority for some, while they can also be a welcome change up to a more traditional workout regime for others. Some gyms may also offer popular fitness classes for things like muay thai, boxing and crossfit. Be sure to check if attendance is part of your membership fee, or at an extra cost!

Once you know what you’re going to need from a gym, write it down! A list can help you remember your priorities when you start visiting places.

Gym visits: what to look out for

Gyms want you to visit so they can show off what they have to offer – so take them up on a tour. During the tour you’ll want to ask questions to make sure they can meet the needs on your list but also keep an eye on what’s going on inside. Common things to think about during a tour include:

  • Gym staff: Remember that a gym is also a retail business, so go with your gut when thinking about the staff’s customer service. This can be a good indication of how helpful they will be during your gym membership, and when problems arise.
  • Cleanliness and hygiene: Check both the gym equipment, workout spaces, and shower and locker rooms are clean. Don’t be afraid to open the door of an unoccupied shower to inspect it closely. Also keep an eye out for disinfectant spray bottles around machines; and whether people wipe equipment down after they’ve used them.
  • Environment: Make a note of the lighting around the gym, the volume of the music, and the space between machines and workout areas.
  • Other people: If you can visit during peak times (11:30am to 2:30pm), you will get a feel for how busy the gym can be. Also try to see how busy group classes are if they’ve available, and ask what the most popular classes are.

Pay attention to how the gym makes you feel; if something makes you uncomfortable or apprehensive, don’t just dismiss it! It could be nerves for trying out a new gym, or it might be indicative of a problem that could put you off attending down the line.

Free trials: make the absolute most of it

Some gyms, generally bigger chain facilities, may offer you a free trial. These can last from one day to a few weeks, giving you access to the facilities before you commit money to it. This is your opportunity to really find out if the gym will fit in with your lifestyle. Try to use everything the gym offers that you would intend to use if you became a member, and some of the stuff you don’t.

Use a variety of machines that you feel comfortable with, both cardio and weights machines, and try your hand at free weights as well. If you’re completely new to working out, try this beginner’s weight workout aimed at those new to the gym. Even if it’s not a priority, try out a class or two, and at different times. Try out a shower and take up a personal training session if you’re interested in it.

Be safe however. If you only have a short trial then it might not be a good idea to cram everything into 1-3 days. Even if you have a few weeks to trial the gym, don’t go too hard too early! You don’t want to injure yourself before you’ve even begun your gym membership.

Gym membership contracts: read the details

Just like signing any contract, it’s important to be sure you know what you’re signing up for. Gym memberships have been highlighted around the world for some unfair consumer practices, but for the most part members should find their gym experience relatively issue free.

When looking at a new contract, keep the following things in mind:

  • Contract termination clauses: Find out when and how your contract may be terminated; whether by you or the gym itself. This includes situations where you miss a payment, or the gym has determined you have broken one of its rules.
  • Service change clauses: Check to see if your gym allows you to cancel or change your membership should they close or move your nearest facility. If you also happen to suffer an injury or become ill, find out if there is an option to put your gym membership on hold and how long you can hold it for.
  • Limited or excluded liability clauses: Read to make sure you understand what the gym may claim is not its fault in the event you are injured or harmed whilst in their premises. Obviously, we’re not talking about the ability to sue the business when you hurt yourself, but what happens if the harm you come to is not your fault?
  • Contract renewal clauses: What happens at the end of your contract? It might be that you must renew before you can continue to use the facilities, or you might switch to a pay-monthly scenario until you sign a new contract. Find out whether or not you may qualify to retain your current membership fee level even if the gym has increased its prices.

It’s important not to think of the company as the “bad guy”, they’re simply in the business of making sure they limit their risk and exposure in the event that something bad happens. A good contract will protect you as well as the company, and ensure that any mishaps are handled swiftly and to the benefit of both yourself and the business.

Don’t forget to check your health care coverage too

It’s a new year and you’ll want to make sure that you give yourself the best start you can! Signing up to a gym to get healthy is a fantastic idea but one that obviously comes with a risk of injury. The new year can also be a really good time to check that your health insurance coverage still meets all of your needs. If you are signing a new gym membership contract, review your policy to make sure that a workout injury is covered by your plan.

If you find that your existing policy won’t cover gym injuries, or you’re just not sure about how well your current coverage will work with your new hobby, give our experts at Pacific Prime Singapore a call! Our experienced advisers can provide you with a free quote and advice to help you start 2017 with your best foot forward!

Healthy New Year’s Resolutions for 2017

Healthy New Year's Resolutions

The end of another year has come, and amidst all the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s festivities, it’s also a time of reflection and planning for the next year, and also about time to start jotting down a few New Year’s resolutions for 2017 that you can actually stick to, and not forget about come mid to end of January!

The following quote by English poet Edith Lovejoy Pierce perfectly encapsulates the spirit of New Year’s: “We will open the book. Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” To help you with your first chapter of 2017 so to speak, Pacific Prime Singapore has compiled the following top healthy New Year’s resolutions to stick to in 2017.

Setting New Year’s resolutions that stick

So maybe you want to lose weight, or start saving money. It’s common to see a surge in gym memberships come January as every treadmill in the country becomes taken up, and then see gym-goer numbers decrease in February, and even more so in March. This is not surprising, especially considering the fact that just 8% of people stick to their New Year’s resolutions.

But here’s what you can do: Questolutions. A portmanteau of the words ‘question’ and ‘resolution’, questolutions refers to using questions in your list of resolutions to make them more motivating, as they inspire thoughts of more intrinsically motivated reasons to pursue a goal. For example, instead of saying: ‘I want to exercise more’, it can be a lot more effective to ask yourself: ‘In what ways can I exercise more?’.

1. In what ways can I exercise more?

Regular exercise helps reduce the risk of a myriad of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart conditions, and also helps burn calories, improve muscle strength, increase your endurance, and boost your mood by releasing happy hormones called endorphins. The trouble here is that, many people find exercise such as running or going to the gym fairly tedious, but there are ways of making sure that you exercise more.

A key way in ensuring that you exercise more is by doing exercise that you actually enjoy. Some of the following types of exercise are fun and also helps you keep fit:

  • Trampolining: Trampolining is great fun and it’s not just for kids! It helps improve balance and coordination, build muscle and lose fat. Here are the top 5 trampoline parks to check out in Singapore.
  • Rock climbing: Rock climbing is both challenging and rewarding. Did you know that one session can burn 500-900 calories per hour? It also helps with improving your flexibility and strengthening your muscles!
  • Dancing: How about joining a dance class so you can start busting your moves? Some of the most popular types of dance include hip-hop, jazz, and tap dancing. It’s a great way to make new friends, and also helps improve your coordination and can be great for improving your confidence too.
  • Martial arts: Martial arts such as Taekwondo, Judo, and Karate are great for improving cardiovascular health, and also helps with boosting your reflexes.

2. How do I find time to prepare more home cooked meals?

It goes without saying that eating home cooked meals more often is much healthier than eating take out meals or eating at a restaurant, as the latter will usually be packed full of calories, fat, sugar, and salt, meaning a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Food-borne illnesses such as gastroenteritis contracted in restaurants often make news headlines too, so eating at home can actually lower your chances of exposure to unsanitary food. 2016 has seen several food poisoning cases in Singapore, including a case that was linked to durian pastries.

It is admittedly difficult to find time for cooking meals at home, especially for those of you with busy work schedules. To increase your intake of home cooked meals, try a potluck party at home with your friends, and also aim to prepare your meals on Sunday so that you can pack them in your fridge for the week ahead.

3. How can I find ways of coping with stress?

Mental health is equally important! It’s normal to feel stressed once in awhile, but if you’re overly stressed, you can actually put yourself at risk of developing depression and other psychiatric illnesses. To cope with stress, here are a few things you can do:

  • Breathing: This method may seem rudimentary, but deep breathing can really help you deal with stress and is an amazing technique for stimulating relaxation and relieving tension.
  • Drink less caffeine: If you drink coffee, try limiting yourself to 1 to 2 cups per day. While it does make you feel more awake, caffeine can actually make you feel more anxious, nervous, and irritable.
  • Meditation: Meditation really does work! Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety, worry and depression. It’s also been proven to improve your mood, emotional intelligence, and mental focus.

4. Am I covered by health insurance?

Having health insurance on its own doesn’t directly make you healthier, but it can offer a range of preventative benefits such as coverage for regular checkups that could really make the difference between treating an illness that has been detected early on as opposed to a life-threatening disease.

If you’d like to have a chat about anything related to health or insurance (or both), feel free to contact our team of insurance advisors today!

Differences between Singapore medical concierge and insurance brokers

Singapore Medical Concierge

A recent decision by the Singapore government has put new rules in place concerning doctors giving payments to third parties for bringing in patients. This has put a spotlight on medical concierge companies, as the new guidelines will likely put a pinch on these companies’ pocket books. What are medical concierge companies, though? And do how they compare to providers of similar services like insurance brokerages? We break it all down here.

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