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Outpatient Health Insurance in Singapore – Explained

In Singapore, outpatient insurance typically refers to health insurance covering medical expenses incurred outside of a hospital or clinic admission.

This type of insurance typically covers expenses related to consultations with doctors or specialists, diagnostic tests, prescription medications, and other outpatient services such as physiotherapy or traditional Chinese medicine.

In Lion City, healthcare remains one of the top concerns for residents and expats. And of the main reason for concern is the rising healthcare costs; Singapore has been consistently ranked among one of the top countries globally for its healthcare infrastructure.

Moreover, patients in Singapore are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting first-class medical facilities. So, by securing health coverage featuring inpatient and outpatient insurance, you can rest assured that your healthcare requirements will be taken care of.

Those hunting for insurance will quickly realize that there are countless health insurance options on the market. Learning the key features of plans helps, as you can confidently approach the buying process. This week’s article gives you the lowdown on one of the most coveted health coverage benefits: outpatient insurance.

Health insurance is mandatory for the residents of Singapore

What is outpatient insurance?

Outpatient insurance is designed primarily for those treatments and hospital visits that do not require an overnight stay at a medical facility. On the other hand, inpatient care is care received when admitted to the hospital for medical treatment. Most people choose outpatient treatments through GPs and specialists when it comes to inpatient vs. outpatient use.

When searching for health insurance in Singapore, one of the first questions a broker or insurer will ask you is whether you’re looking for a basic inpatient-only plan or a plan that includes both inpatient and outpatient insurance coverage.

In most countries, health insurance policies that cover outpatient care also include inpatient coverage. A policy that covers inpatient and outpatient tends to have higher premiums than inpatient-only plans simply because they cover a wider range of benefits.

Why is outpatient insurance important?

Speaking of health insurance in Singapore, having coverage for inpatient treatment may seem enough since it can be very expensive, especially without subsidized healthcare. For instance, according to MOH Singapore, a knee replacement in a public hospital can cost up to SGD $30,203.

However, outpatient insurance can also be extremely beneficial in Singapore, particularly if you need regular outpatient care. The cost of outpatient consultations in Singapore can be relatively affordable for subsidized patients, with citizens and permanent residents paying up to SGD $59. But private patients, such as foreigners, expats, and tourists, can expect to pay much higher fees. For non-permanent residents, initial consultation with a Senior Consultant can cost SGD $146, with repeat consultations charged SGD $107. Non-residents can expect to pay even more.

Is it worth getting outpatient insurance in Singapore? 

Doctor checking her outpatient's health.

Having inpatient and outpatient care coverage can be more expensive than an inpatient-only insurance policy. Still, we recommend a more comprehensive plan that covers both to ensure your long-term health.

You may not need outpatient care at the moment, but the future can be uncertain, and it can be challenging to secure outpatient insurance if you develop an ongoing illness.

If you only make one unexpected outpatient visit to a clinic in a year, you may feel that outpatient insurance is unnecessary. However, if you have a serious illness that requires regular hospital visits, such as dialysis, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy, the costs can quickly add up over time.

What does outpatient insurance cover?

Plans come with various levels and benefits for inpatient and outpatient care, so being clear about what’s covered and not covered is important. Check the outpatient schedule to ensure that you and/or your family are covered for treatments you might expect you’ll need.

Typically speaking, most outpatient insurance benefits will include the following items:

  • GP and clinic visits
  • Specialist visits
  • Prescription medications
  • Diagnostic tests (e.g., X-rays)
  • Scheduled health check-ups
  • Vaccinations
  • Most other types of care where you are not admitted to the hospital

Outpatient insurance plans in Singapore can also feature benefits for chiropractic care and alternative treatment like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), etc.

General exclusions

Please also bear in mind that there are still general exclusions and limitations to outpatient benefits, which will vary depending on the insurer. The most common exclusions to watch out for include the following:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Self-inflicted injuries or illness caused by hazardous use of alcohol/drugs, or participation in criminal acts
  • Cosmetic treatment (e.g., botox)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Dental treatments

Doctor helping patient with her outpatient treatment

Looking for extra health insurance protection?

If you’re looking to cover your pre-existing conditions and/or dental, maternity, and vision treatment, there are more comprehensive health insurance options available.

In most cases,  international health insurance plans providers offer the option of covering pre-existing/chronic conditions, provided that you pay an additional premium or agree to a waiting period on that particular benefit.

Many plans also offer the option to include add-on benefits like maternity and dental insurance. Limitations will usually apply, though. For example, maternity insurance typically features 10-12 month waiting periods, meaning those planning on starting a new family must obtain pregnancy coverage before the child is conceived to access maternity benefits.

To learn more about your health insurance options, feel free to drop us a call today. As Singapore’s leading expat health insurance provider, our team of experts are committed to supporting clients through every step of their insurance journey. Not only do we compare health insurance plans to find the best one for your needs and budget, but we also have in-house claims, administration, and renewals teams who provide unrivaled support throughout our clients’ entire policy lifetime.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between outpatient and inpatient insurance in Singapore?

Outpatient care includes doctor-related fees and tests. On the other hand, inpatient care includes other hospital fees, such as surgeries, a serious illness that requires admission at the hospital overnight, etc.

Is inpatient insurance better than outpatient?

In most cases, inpatient insurance also includes outpatient services. Outpatient treatment has the benefits of a longer duration of treatment over time, inpatient care can deliver many more treatment services (group sessions, individual sessions) in a shorter period of time.

What does outpatient insurance in Singapore mean?

Outpatient treatment insurance in Singapore covers various expenses generally not reimbursed by basic health insurance and is ideal for basic benefits often restricted by traditional health insurance.

Is Medicare in Singapore inpatient insurance?

Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital bills, meaning that you pay a one-time deductible for all your hospital expenses for the first 60 days you are in the hospital. While on the other hand, Medicare Part B covers most of your doctor services.

Are there different types of outpatients?

Yes, there are different types of outpatient departments. These types of clinics are based on the function and facility they offer. Some examples of outpatient care are primary care clinics, community clinics, urgent care centers, specialized outpatient clinics, emergency departments, and more.

Lakshmi is an experienced writer with a passion for insurance trends and economics. She has been writing professionally for the past 6 years. Lakshmi has worked on numerous in-depth reports analyzing various insurance trends and providing valuable insights for readers.

Since joining Pacific Prime, Lakshmi has gained a comprehensive understanding of different kinds of health insurance and their importance in people's lives. Her expertise in this area has allowed her to produce informative and engaging content that helps individuals make informed decisions regarding their health insurance.

Lakshmi's clear, concise, and engaging writing style makes complex insurance concepts accessible to readers of all levels and also adheres to Pacific Prime’s motto: - “Simplifying Insurance.”
Lakshmi Chirumamilla