Posted on Jul 16, 2015 by rob.mcbroom
Foreign Domestic Helpers, or maids, have become an essential part of life in Singapore for many expats, so much so that it is often hard to consider life in the city without the aid of at least one helper. With - according to statistics published by the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) in Singapore - around 225,500 Foreign Domestic Workers in the city as of December 2014, maids have become a large part of the city. As such, the government has enacted a number of laws related to the hiring of these workers that you should be aware of. One of the most important laws revolves around health insurance.
Health insurance rules for your maid
By law, in Singapore, all maids are required to have a work permit sponsored by the employer in order to work in the city. There are a number of conditions that the employer must meet in order for this permit to be issued, including aspects like a minimum required wage, acceptable housing, and more.
When it comes to these conditions there are two that expats need to pay particularly close attention to (largely because they are so different from employment requirements in other countries like the UK, US, Australia, and Canada). The first is that, as the MoM states, employers must, "Pay workers their salaries and the cost of their upkeep and maintenance, including the cost of medical treatment." What this means is that should your helper need to go to the doctor, you will be required to pay for the treatment. With a large percentage of the helpers in Singapore being non-Singapore residents, this means that they will not have access to the MediSave/MediShield insurance programs which cover a large percentage of medical costs in the city, and will therefore have higher medical costs.
This condition above is one of the main reasons for the second condition employers should be aware of: You need to purchase medical insurance for each domestic helper your employ before they will be issued a work permit - the MoM will not approve any permits until you have a policy in place for any helpers you are going to hire.
What kind of insurance do you need for your maid?
Because health insurance is mandatory, it is essential for any employer to know what type to purchase and what coverage elements are needed. To help, the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore have created an overview of health insurance plan requirements. At a minimum, the plan you secure should provide medical expenditure coverage of at least SGD 15,000 per year and cover inpatient care and hospitalization/surgery costs - even if the costs may not be work related. You are also required to secure a personal accident policy with coverage of at least SGD 40,000.
While this is fairly straightforward, there is one thing that you should be aware of: In Singapore, most Foreign Domestic Helper work permits are issued on a two year basis - meaning that the contracts signed by employers will generally be for two years. Therefore, you need to secure an insurance policy that covers your helper for the contracted period.
What are my options?
Do a quick Google search and you will quickly come to find that there are a wealth of plans available, with many insurance agencies in Singapore offering plans specifically developed for covering helpers. The problem is, it can be a chore actually finding the right plan for you, especially because the minimum coverage amounts (SGD 15,000) will more than likely not be enough coverage should your helper require medical care or a longer stay in the hospital, not to mention the fact that they will also require time off to recover.
Because of the large number of plans available, we strongly recommend working with a company like Pacific Prime. When you work with us, our Singapore-based insurance experts help you determine what specific insurance is needed, and will come up with a list of suitable plans that not only meet, but normally exceed the minimum requirements set by the MoM. This can help ensure that there are no delays in the work permit process.
If you are looking to hire a new maid, or renew an existing contract, contact Pacific Prime today to learn more about your health insurance options.