The cost of healthcare today is amongst the most expensive things that concerns every Singaporean today (others being property, cars). The reasons for the rising healthcare costs are aplenty and it does not look like it will become more affordable anytime soon.
Read Also: Why Medical Inflation At 15% Spells Disaster
The Singapore government’s efforts to put a healthcare cost system in place is commendable, however there are still gaps to plug. Singaporeans continue to pay a huge part of their medical fees out of their pockets. With medical inflation at a rate of 15%, there is growing concern about the affordability of healthcare today and in the years to come.
The Singapore Model
Singapore’s medical framework is a unique one with 4 different tiers, each covering different aspects of our healthcare. By using a combination of subsidies as well as compulsory savings from our wages (i.e. CPF contributions), a big part of our healthcare bills are taken care of.
Subsidies are one of the biggest factors that make healthcare in Singapore affordable. The government provides heavy subsidies of up to 80% of the total bill in public hospital wards.
A part of our income is put into our MediSave accounts every month to help us save up for future medical needs. Medisave covers personal or immediate family’s hospitalization, day surgery and certain outpatient expenses.
However, there are many limits placed on Medisave withdrawals that prevent us from claiming the entire cost of our treatment.
Read Also: What Is Medisave And Why Is It Important?
Your basic health insurance. It helps with larger hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments such as dialysis and treatment for cancer. MediShield life automatically covers all pre-existing health conditions such as cancer, kidney complications, liver failure etc.
Should you have financial difficulties when paying your remaining hospital bills even after receiving all the subsidies as well as other forms of payments (i.e. the ones listed above and private insurance), Medifund steps in to help needy Singaporean patients.
It might seem like Singaporeans are well covered by these 4 tiers. However, simply having these 4 tiers is NOT ENOUGH.
Singapore’s out-of-pocket expense is among the highest in Asia at 57% of total health expenditure in 2013. Out-of-pocket expense refers to the share of expenses the insured must pay to the healthcare provider, without a third party such as an insurer or government.
This shows that despite the government’s efforts to put in place a healthcare costing system that can help Singaporeans reduce their financial burden, we are still paying more than 50% of our healthcare costs.
With the rising healthcare costs, there needs to be greater emphasis on the importance of healthcare insurance as a surgery can easily set you back tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Getting Our Own Health Insurance
Besides living a healthy lifestyle, purchasing healthcare insurance is one of the most important things you need to do for yourself as well as your family members. As much as we Singaporeans think insurance agents try to hard sell their policies, the fact is that too many Singaporeans are not protected enough.
It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Give yourself a peace of mind by planning ahead and preparing yourself for unexpected situations. Don’t look to healthcare solutions only when an unfortunate event happens and you’re scrambling to find out what you can do to cover the costs.
Features Of Healthcare Insurance To Consider
#1 Duration Of Policy Coverage
5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Whole life? The duration of the insurance policy coverage is now more important given that people are living longer.
#2 Stand-Alone Or Bundled Policy
Do you want a stand-alone policy with only care coverage? Or would you want a bundled policy with care as the primary or supplementary policy?
It is important to know what coverage you want from your policy. Insurance agencies today offer a wide range of policies that provide coverage for different aspects. Do you want an all-in-one policy that covers for your entire family or individual policies that differ and are catered to each family member?
You need to have a balance between purchasing insurance that provides enough coverage while being able to reach your other financial goals.
Purchasing insurance is essential, however you should still have finances set aside for savings and investment plans. By mapping out what exactly you want covered from your insurance policies, you can plan out your finances and allocate the portions required for your other financial goals.