Key drivers shaping international health insurance premiums in Singapore

High medical inflation

Medical inflation in Singapore is expected to reach 10%, which is above the global average of 8%. The increase in chronic condition cases, as well as the aging population needing care, fuels medical inflation in Asia's most expensive city for medical care.

Weak negotiating position

Huge increase in chronic conditions cases

Managing and paying for care chronic condition care in Singapore is not cheap. This not only decreases the quality of life, but also makes employees and individuals less productive, which has a direct impact on the economy.

Coverage plan gap

Increased medical costs for cancer and cardiovascular treatments

In Singapore, inpatient costs are mounting due to increasing medical fees for particular types of treatment, especially cancer and cardiovascular care.

Aging population

Companies are trying to keep costs low

Employers are increasingly looking to contain costs via methods like introducing deductibles or co-pays, while at the same time working on implementing wellness and preventative programs to improve health outcomes.

Aging population

Mental health gaining awareness

Employers are starting to re-think employee benefits by offering mental health support and wellness programs. In the long term, this will encourage employees to be more active and healthy, and will hopefully have a positive impact in containing medical inflation.

Aging population
international health insurance

Key drivers shaping international health insurance premiums globally

Increased demand for international quality private care

This trend continues from the previous editions of our Cost of International Health Insurance Reports. The growing upper-middle class in countries such as China, as well as population growth of High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth individuals who are willing to travel abroad for treatment, are driving the demand for international quality private healthcare. This, in‌ ‌turn, drives up the cost of healthcare, and subsequently the premiums of insurance plans that cover such care.

Weak negotiating position

Increased cost of healthcare

On a global scale, the cost of healthcare is increasing and has been doing so on a consistent basis for many years. Some of the drivers influencing the rise in healthcare costs include global population aging, poor health habits that lead to the development of chronic conditions, the increasing cost of medical technology and research, and overuse of medical care.

Weak negotiating position

Increased regulation

Increased regulatory requirements that vary greatly between different regions are affecting the insurance world vastly. Insurers are thus increasingly struggling with the requirement of offering global health plans that can accommodate all of the different jurisdictions' regulations. Two of the most prominent regulatory trends that we believe are having a significant impact on IPMI premiums globally are the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the roll-out of mandatory health insurance in a growing number of regions, such as Thailand and Oman.

Coverage plan gap

Increased challenges with fraud regulation

As in our previous annual editions of the Cost of International Health Insurance report, health insurance fraud continues to be a major issue for the industry and consumers. A growing number of insurers are developing and expanding the use of technology to improve their anti-fraud means. This may initially have an upward impact on premiums due to the insurers' heavy investment in new forms of technology, but will hopefully have a downward impact on premiums in the future as the result of a significant decline in medical insurance fraud.

Aging population

The rise of insurtech

The increasingly common use of technology in the insurance industry is having an enormous effect on how insurers design their products, underwrite policies, administer plans, as well as manage claims ( including identifying fraudulent ones). The use of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and the growing importance of telemedicine in a number of key regions all contribute to the improvement and acceleration of many processes (for example, faster claims handling), and may potentially result in huge cost savings. This could mean slower premium inflation rates in the future.

Aging population

What is the cost of
international health insurance
in Singapore and Asia?

Compared to 2018, Singapore's 2019 family and individual insurance premiums have risen by 9%, which is a relatively higher rate when you compare it to most other countries in the Asia region.
In the individual rankings, Singapore ranked sixth place in 2018 with an average premium of USD $5,006, whereas in 2019 the Lion City has been ranked the fourth costliest country for individual international health insurance plans, with an average cost of USD $5,458.
In 2018, Singapore's average cost of family plans was USD $13,862 - placing the country in sixth place for family premiums. In 2019, on the other hand, the average cost of family plans in Singapore is USD $15,055, thus placing the country in fourth place.
Top 5 most expensive countries for individual and family health insurance in Asia
Average individual premium in 2019 (USD)
1. Hong Kong - USD $5,738
2. Singapore - USD $5,458
3. China - USD $4,633
4. Australia - USD $3,585
5. New Zealand - USD $3,725
Average family premium in 2019 (USD)
1. Hong Kong - USD $17,140
2. Singapore - USD $15,055
3. China - USD $13,422
4. Australia - USD $12,620
5. New Zealand - USD $12,012
Cost of International Health Insurance in Hong Kong Report - 2019
Cost of International Health Insurance in Hong Kong Report - 2019

An in-depth look at our key findings

A notable number of countries have witnessed increased premiums and rankings

97% of the countries studied have seen an increase in premiums versus last year, with only 3 countries witnessing a decrease. One notable finding is that Australia and Singapore saw significant jumps in their rankings for both individual and family plans. Another standout finding in our 2019 report is that Canada is now the second most expensive country for individual and family IPMI, replacing Hong Kong for this position.

The Americas is a dominant region in the top 20 most expensive countries

When looking at the top 20 most expensive countries for individual and family health insurance, it is immediately clear that countries from the Americas are dominant in both rankings. More specifically, 15 out of the 29 countries featured in the top 20 ranking tables are from the Americas. There are a number of reasons why plans offered in this region are relatively costly, one reason being that healthcare costs in many of the countries within this region are either very expensive (e.g. the US and Canada), or rising rapidly (e.g. Mexico).

China’s premiums are going through a correction after years of increase

A number of the leading insurers in China did not apply an increase to their premium in 2019, and some even reduced their premiums. One explanation for this is that insurers have improved their ability to identify and segment high-cost providers, and are able to offer cheaper plans that exclude such facilities. A change in government policy has also contributed to a reduction in medical costs in the region.

African countries have some of the highest premium inflation rates

21 African countries saw premium inflation rates of 15% or higher for individual plans, while 10 African countries saw inflation rates of 15% or higher for family plans. Among the factors that contribute to this phenomenon are the increasing cost of claims in the region, as well as a growing middle class population with higher disposable income.

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