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Health Insurance for Expats in Singapore: A Guide to Costs Involved and Choosing a Plan

In many countries, expats who are legally working and contributing to taxes receive the same level of healthcare subsidies as local residents. However, this isn’t the case in Singapore, and coupled with the city-state’s exorbitant cost of healthcare, securing a health insurance plan is essential.

Going for the cheapest plan might not be the smartest move in the long run, as not all health insurance plans are created equal. In this Pacific Prime CXA article, we’ll go through the different options you’ll have, the costs involved, as well as tips to help you compare plans.

Individual health insurance blog

Health Insurance Options and Costs for Expats in Singapore

As a health insurance broker, the question we are asked most is about the cost of expat insurance in Singapore. To answer this, we’ll first need to explain your health insurance options in the Lion City, due to the fact that premiums can differ significantly depending on the plan.

Local Insurance Plan (Singapore only)

If you opt for a Singapore insurer, chances are you’ll be looking at a local health insurance plan. As the name suggests, these plans are typically valid only in the city-state, and any coverage abroad will be limited to emergencies only.

Note: Certain Singapore insurers also offer international health insurance plans (outlined below) that cater specifically to expats. Therefore, if you’re engaging with local insurers, it’s important to clarify with them what plan you’re getting. 

Local plans in Singapore are designed to be used alongside “MediShield Life”, the basic national health insurance plans that citizens and permanent residents receive, which is why they are commonly known as “Integrated Shield Plans”.

Even though you’re not eligible for MediShield Life as an expat, you may be able to purchase Integrated Shield Plans from local insurers. However, note that you may have to pay higher premiums.

Cost of an Integrated Shield Plan from AIA

One example of a Singapore insurer is AIA. Their HealthShield Gold Max is an Integrated Shield Plan that costs the following for a 25-year-old expat (who is not a dependent of a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident):

  • SGD $637 per year for basic coverage

You can use the price quotation tool to see how the premium changes depending on your age, if you’re a dependent of a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident, or if you choose to expand your coverage.

International Health Insurance Plan (Singapore and Worldwide)

If you opt for a non-Singapore insurer, then you’ll most likely be looking at international health insurance plans. These plans tend to provide coverage in several regions, although many will exclude the USA or charge extra for it, as healthcare costs in the country are extremely high.

These plans are more popular with expats in Singapore, as they’re compatible with the expat way of life. If you travel a lot or if you plan on relocating, you don’t need to worry about health insurance matters, as your plan will still be valid.

That being said, these plans cost more than their local counterparts. Nevertheless, as we’ll explore later on in this article, there are many reasons why an international plan may be a superior choice for you.

Cost of international health insurance plans

If you’re a 25-year-old expat looking for an international plan, here are some of your options, compiled using Pacific Prime’s price quotation tool. As you can see, the plans don’t offer the same thing, so it’s best to assess your needs and understand the terms before choosing a plan.

Insurer Coverage Premium per year (USD $)
Allianz Worldwide excluding the USA, USD $13,500 annual deductible, $2,250,000 annual limit 1,585*
Cigna  Worldwide excluding the USA, USD $3,000 annual deductible, $1,000,000 annual limit 2,805*
RHI & Bupa Global Worldwide excluding the USA, USD $400 annual deductible, $3,200,000 annual coverage 5,959*

*Cover In-patient treatment only, with emergency and evacuation coverage. Individuals who look for wider coverage can expect higher premiums.

Note: Make sure to set the premium cost as SGD $ instead of USD $ when using the price quotation tool. 

Tips for Comparing Expat Health Insurance Plans

Given that premium cost isn’t the be-all and end-all, which option provides the best health insurance for expats in Singapore? Furthermore, how and why do plans differ even with the same insurer? Here are some factors to keep in mind when comparing and evaluating health insurance plans.

Geographical Coverage

The more regions it covers, the higher the premiums. Local health insurance plans are cheaper, but they only cover you in Singapore; whereas international health insurance plans allow you to retain coverage if you travel or relocate. Therefore, even if it’s more expensive, it is worth considering. 

Extent of Coverage

Whether it’s a local or international health insurance plan, those cheaper plans provide basic coverage, which is inpatient only. In other words, this is coverage for treatments received if you were admitted overnight to the hospital. Premium costs will increase if you want coverage for:

  • Outpatient coverage (treatment received if you were not admitted overnight to the hospital such as GP visits)
  • Pre-existing conditions coverage (conditions you have before securing health insurance)
  • Dental coverage
  • Vision coverage
  • Pregnancy and childbirth coverage
  • Newborn coverage
  • And more.

Terms that Increase Out-Of-Pocket Payments as Part of the Coverage

Finally, plans with lower premiums also tend to have higher deductibles, co-payments, and more exclusions. Essentially, even though you don’t have to fork out a lot each month for health insurance, you may be required to pay more out of pocket for treatments.

Deductible: This is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your health insurance plan kicks in and the insurer starts paying.

Co-payment: This is the amount you’ll have to pay for the cost of a covered treatment, following the payment of the deductible (if any). It’s usually charged as a percentage of the costs.

Limits/Exclusions: This is any condition, situation, or treatment that your health insurance plan will not cover.

Check out our glossary for the full list of insurance jargon and the respective explanations.

Direct Billing and Claims Process

It’s also worth forking out a bit more for an insurer with a large provider network and direct billing service. This will allow the hospital to bill your insurer directly, saving you the time and stress of making claims for reimbursement.

In addition to this, make sure that, if you do need to make a claim, then the process is fairly straightforward. The last thing you want is lots of paperwork, bureaucracy, as well as going back and forth between you and the insurer.

Insurer Reputation, Renewability, and Long-Term Price Stability

Going with a reputable insurer is also prudent, even if it is more expensive than other alternatives. This is because they’ll be able to provide better customer service, support, and have more stable price increases.

Similarly, going with a plan and insurer that has a “lifetime renewability” is better as it provides a more long-term insurance solution, so you don’t have to worry about switching insurers further down the line.

Looking to Secure Expat Health Insurance? Get in Touch with Pacific Prime CXA

If you’d like to learn more about expat health insurance, Pacific Prime CXA is here to help. We leverage our partnership with top insurers in the region, offering a vast array of services at no extra costs, and supporting you throughout your insurance journey.

Contact us today for impartial advice or an obligation-free quote!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime CXA
Eric is an experienced content writer specializing in writing creative copies of marketing materials including social media posts, advertisements, landing pages, and video scripts.

Since joining Pacific Prime, Eric was exposed to a new world of insurance. Having learned about insurance products extensively, he has taken joy and satisfaction in helping individuals and businesses manage risks and protect themselves against financial loss through the power of words.

Although born and raised in Hong Kong, he spent a quarter of his life living and studying in the UK. He believes his multicultural experience is a great asset in understanding the needs and wants of expats and globe-trotters.

Eric’s strengths lie in his strong research, analytical, and communication skills, obtained through his BA in Linguistics from the University of York and MSc in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Bristol.

Outside of work, he enjoys some me-time gaming and reading on his own, occasionally going absolutely mental on a night out with friends.
Eric Chung