Mandatory Medical Insurance Coverage For Foreign Workers: What Are The Minimum Requirements For Work Permit (including Migrant Domestic Workers) And S Pass Holders

The advent of the pandemic has heightened the need for accessible and affordable medical care for migrant workers in Singapore.

Employers are responsible for the medical expenses of their Work Permit (including migrant domestic workers) and S Pass holders in Singapore. Aside from mandatory medical insurance, employers have little protection or assistance when it comes to large medical bills incurred by their workers.  

In order to help employers, manage their workers’ healthcare costs and improve the medical support for migrant workers, the mandatory medical insurance was enhanced to a higher annual claim limit of at least $60,000 for policies with a start date effective on or after 1 July.

Here is what you need to know about the minimum requirements under the mandatory medical insurance coverage for foreign workers in Singapore.

Read Also: Guide To Work Passes In Singapore: Work Permits, S Pass and Employment Pass (EP)

Recap On The Current Medical Insurance Requirements

Currently, employers hiring Work Permit holders and S Pass holders must buy medical insurance with a coverage of at least $15,000 per year for their inpatient care and day surgery for the duration of their employment.

Additionally, employers hiring migrant domestic workers are required to buy personal accident insurance coverage of at least $60,000 per year to cover for any sudden, unforeseen, and unexpected incidents resulting in permanent disability or death.

Enhanced Medical Insurance For Inpatient Settings

The enhancements to the medical insurance policies will be implemented over two stages from 1 July 2023 to 1 July 2025.

For Stage 1, employers need to buy and maintain medical insurance with an annual claim limit of at least $60,000 for all new and existing work permit holders (including migrant domestic workers).

Source: MOM

Employers can also make arrangements to co-pay with their work permit holders for their medical bills, provided (i) the co-pay amount does not exceed 10% of the worker’s fixed monthly salary, (ii) the duration of co-payment does not exceed 6 months, and (iii) the co-payment option is clearly written in the employment contract and has the worker’s full consent.  

Introduction Of Co-Payment Component, With An Annual Claim Limit Of At Least $60,000

As the bulk of the workers’ medical bills fall under $15,000, there will be no change to the first dollar of coverage under the enhanced MI. However, as there were over 1,000 employers per year who face bills in excess of $15,000, a co-payment element of up to an annual claim limit of at least $60,000 will be introduced under the new MI requirements.

Under the enhanced MI, this would translate to a smaller cash outlay for an employer in the event that their worker incurs a medical bill in excess of $15,000.

To illustrate this with an example, under the current MI, if a worker incurs a medical bill of $70,000, the employer needs to pay anything in excess of the first $15,000, which amounts to $55,000. However, under the enhanced MI, the employer needs to pay only $13,750, whilst the insurer will co-pay the remaining first dollar cover (of $15,000) and 75% of the annual claim limit (of $60,000), which amounts to $56,250.

For example: in the scenario where a worker incurs $70,000 medical bill:

Under the current MI:

Under the enhanced MI:

Source: Ministry of Manpower (Enhanced medical insurance coverage for Work Permit and S Pass holders – Annex A)

Insurers Will Reimburse Claims Directly To Hospitals

Under the enhanced medical insurance, insurers will have to reimburse the claims for inpatient and day surgery bills directly to the hospitals. This is a change from the current practice where employers pay their workers’ medical bills first before claiming them back later from their insurers.

Cash-strapped employers could benefit from this enhancement as it will not constrain their cashflows.

Insurers Will Offer Age-Differentiated Insurance Premiums

To keep the premiums for enhanced medical insurance affordable, insurers are required to offer age-differentiated premiums for workers aged 50 and below and those over 50. This will be implemented under Stage 2 in 1 July 2025.

Based on the Ministry of Manpower’s foreign workforce numbers, there are around 1,211,400 Work Permit and S Pass holders working in Singapore as of 2022. Given that 95% of our migrant workers, including migrant domestic workers, are under 50 years of age, this requirement will help to keep premiums affordable for the large majority of employers. 

Standardisation Of Allowable Exclusion Clauses Across Insurers

The government will provide a standardised list of baseline allowable exclusions across insurers. These exclusions are grouped into (1) treatments that are elective and not medically necessary, (2) treatment resulting from employers’/workers’ acts, and (3) others, which include the purchase of medical equipment and medical repatriation. 

This will give employers better clarity on the coverage and the types of claims they are entitled to.

Primary Care Plan For Outpatient Settings For Certain Groups

From April 1, it will become mandatory for employers hiring Work Permit and S Pass holders who live in dormitories or work in the Construction, Manufacturing or Process (CMP) sectors to buy a primary care plan (PCP) for their workers.

The primary care plan is supplementary to the medical insurance plan and will cover most of the migrant workers’ primary care needs at a fixed cost, helping employers cope with the rising healthcare costs of their workers.

With the introduction of this plan, migrant workers will have access to affordable primary healthcare services, including unlimited acute and chronic medical consultations and treatments, 24/7 telemedicine services, annual basic health screening, and scheduled conveyance to and from dormitories and MOM medical centres.

Migrant workers have to co-pay a fixed medical treatment of $5 for each visit to the medical centres or $2 for each telemedicine session, to reduce the moral hazard of overconsumption.

The PCP will cost employers a fixed rate of $108 to $138 for each worker per year, depending on the geographical location of their residence. The premiums can be paid monthly, making it flexible for employers.

Read Also: What Employers Need To Know About The Mandatory Primary Care Plan (PCP) For Foreign Workers

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