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The difference between inpatient and outpatient insurance

Hospitalisation insurance comes in many forms. Learn more about the difference between inpatient and outpatient care with Pacific Prime.

Inpatient and Outpatient

Hospitalisation insurance

When you’re looking for hospitalisation insurance in Singapore, there are a few things you should be aware of. Plans can vary in the types of coverage they offer, and you should be aware of the differences between inpatient insurance and outpatient insurance. If you don’t, you might find yourself unexpectedly liable for the costs of seeking treatment at a hospital.

The Basic of Hospitalisation Insurance

Insurance policies will cover you for care sought from a hospital, but some policies will differ on the type of care covered. There are generally two types of hospital care that insurance will cover: inpatient and outpatient care. 

Inpatient insurance is generally considered to the most basic level of coverage that health insurance plans will include, with outpatient care being an optional benefit that can be added for an extra charge. 

Inpatient insurance

Inpatient care is any treatment where treatment is needed in a hospital or other medical institution. You will usually be required to be admitted to hospital overnight or longer.

These are usually the most costly forms of care as they may involve surgery or expensive medical tests, monitoring, as well as the use of a hospital bed and meals. 

Inpatient insurance can include coverage for:

  • Semi private or private hospital room during surgery
  • Intensive care rooms
  • Medical fees including nurse and doctor.
  • Medicines given during hospitalization (inpatient medicine)
  • Surgical, anaesthetic, operating room fees
  • Ambulance transport expenses
  • Diagnostic tests e.g., X-Rays, CAT & PET scans, plus laboratory tests
  • Surgical appliances and prosthetic device expenses
  • Organ transplants

Outpatient insurance

Outpatient care covers treatment that does not require a day admission or an overnight stay at a medical facility.

As you’re generally not taking up as much of the hospital’s time like you would with inpatient care, the treatments and processes are generally cheaper.


Outpatient insurance can include coverage for:

  • General practitioner costs
  • Specialist costs
  • Prescription medication
  • Vaccinations
  • Diagnostic tests e.g. X-rays
  • Scheduled health check-ups

Outpatient plans can also include coverage for alternative therapies, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Be aware that not all aspects of an alternative therapy will be covered, so always double check your policy. 

Do I need outpatient insurance?

With inpatient care being more expensive, it might seem as if having only inpatient insurance can be adequate enough in Singapore. Considering the cost of a knee arthroscopic surgery can be as high as SGD 27,000, inpatient coverage is definitely a good idea. However, outpatient insurance can also be a huge benefit in Singapore, especially when regular outpatient care is needed.

Outpatient consultations can be relatively affordable in Singapore with subsidised patients (citizens and permanent residents) paying up to SGD 59, however private patients (like foreigners, expats, and tourists) can expect to pay fees much higher. An initial consultation with a Senior Consultant can cost non-permanent residents SGD 146, with repeat consultations being charged at SGD 107. Non-residents can expect to pay more than that.

If you go a whole year and only need to make one unexpected outpatient visit to a clinic, then you may feel that outpatient insurance is unnecessary. However, if you find yourself diagnosed with a serious illness that requires regular hospital visits (such as for dialysis, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy), these costs can quickly stack up over time.

Obtaining both inpatient and outpatient care is generally more expensive than an inpatient only insurance policy, however we’d recommend a more comprehensive plan that covers both simply as a matter of ensuring your health long term. You might not need outpatient care right now, but the future can be a mystery and outpatient insurance can be difficult to secure if you apply for it after developing an ongoing illness. 

Pacific Prime Singapore: Getting a quote

Considering hospitalisation insurance that includes both inpatient and outpatient care can be quite expensive, it’s worth knowing that Pacific Prime Singapore has a number of ways to reduce the increased premium on more comprehensive plans. You’ve got options of adding co-pays, higher excesses or deductibles, or even reducing your benefit limits to make the plan more affordable.

If you need some further advice, have any questions at all, or simply want to talk to an expert on insurance matters in Singapore, our team of experienced advisors are able to help. Send us a quick message and we will be in touch as soon as we can. 

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