Posted on Mar 22, 2016 by Travis Jones
With regards to healthcare in Singapore, things are always going up. The level of medical technology and trailblazing new treatments found in Singapore are the envy of medical systems worldwide. This has also lead to rising levels of medical tourists visiting the city-state. Even insurers in Singapore are seeing rising tides. It was recently announced that the non-life insurance market here posted 2.6% growth in order to bring in revenue of US$2.6 billion. Of course, another thing that’s going up that few would be happy about is the rising cost of medical care, and similarly, medical insurance.
Fortunately, Singapore’s public healthcare system is always striving to address the concerns that the city’s citizens face. With this in mind it was also recently announced that, starting from May 1st, 2016 new Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) will be on offer. What are the features of these plans, and how might they affect you? Let’s take a closer look.
About Integrated Shield Plans
Integrated Shield Plans in general are private health insurance policies that people in Singapore can use to supplement their MediSave funds. This is good for those that want to have access to private medical facilities without paying for pricey, 100% private medical insurance policies. There are currently 5 insurers that provide MediShield plans. The first plans offered to market were:
AIA HealthShield Gold Max
Great Eastern SupremeHealth
NTUC Income IncomeShield
There are actually 2 parts to every Integrated Shield Plan. The first is a MediShield Life component, which is run by the Central Provident Fund Board. This component is included automatically with any IP. The 2nd part, of course, is that provided by the private health insurance company that you choose. The nature of an IP is that the private insurer will be the primary contact point for plan members, and the insurer will then liaise with the CPF Board as needed. This dual-sided nature of IPs allow for pre-existing conditions to be partially covered even when the insurer may not allow for them. To be sure, though, some pre-existing conditions will always apply under the private component of the IPs, and are still subject to limits of MediShield Life plans.
With the newly announced Integrated Shield Plans, what is actually being introduced is Standard Integrated Shield Plans. These plans create standardized benefits for coverage in Class B1 wards at 9 out of 10 public hospitals. While coverage inside of B1 or even A Class wards has been available previously through certain IPs, the level of benefits was still pegged to the level afforded to those staying in Class B2 or C wards, and, thus, would be met more quickly. Standard IPs come with lower premiums for improved benefits, but it should be noted that this also comes with a far lower annual claim limit: $150,000 versus other IPs which range from $300,000 to $700,000.
The reason this product was created is simply that there was demand for such an improvement from Singaporean citizens.
What this means to you
Fortunately, there’s no bad news here, as the worst case scenario with these new plans is that they have no effect on you whatsoever.
If you are a local Singaporean citizen or an expat with PR the new plans are good news, as better accommodations, such as air conditioned 4 bed rooms, are available. Previously, availing yourself of your IP in public hospitals would likely result in stays in 6+ bed wards with no air conditioning. Be aware, while benefits of the new plan are identical between insurers, prices are not, so comparing plans and getting price quotes for each is advisable. Additionally, B1 ward patients are able to choose their doctors.
In addition, many expats new to Singapore should keep in mind that they are not eligible to obtain Integrated Shield Plans, or really participate in the city’s public healthcare system at all. For them, private health facilities are where they will have to seek treatment, and in order to avoid falling into debt as a result of paying out of pocket for high cost medical treatment they will need to obtain their own private health insurance.
If you are in this camp, contact Pacific Prime Singapore today. Our knowledgeable agents can answer all of your insurance questions while also giving information on plans and prices from some of Singapore’s best insurance companies.