The world we live in gives us a millions reasons to get sick and medical expenses can skyrocket into thousands of dollars. Health insurance steps in to offer you a safety net to combat financial burdens that could occur in the wake of health issues.
With our changing lifestyle, our deteriorating environment and the increased stress levels, our overall health is declining. Running into health issues as we get older seems inevitable. Whether it’s genetic problems, contagious diseases, the result of environmental harm, or just an unhealthy lifestyle, we need to be prepared to deal with health issues mentally, let alone worry about the financial part of it. Having a health insurance policy will reduce the mental stress of paying for treatment and lets you focus on getting better. It is wise to be prepared for medical contingencies instead of worrying about it at the worst possible time.
What is health insurance?
Health insurance is a plan provided by insurance companies that will cover you financially for expenses incurred in case you may experience health issues at any point in your life. It will cover the insured's medical and surgical expenses. You hope you never need to use it, but it’s always better to have it handy.
Health insurance requires you to pay a premium for the term you choose. You may have to pay it monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or annually. Most policies can be renewed at your request.
The Government of Singapore implemented a plan in 1984 known as the 4M framework which consists of Medisave, Medishield, Medifund and Medication Assistance Fund. To ensure that sufficient funds are saved to last a lifetime, limits are set and adjustments are made occasionally. This fund can be used to pay for hospital expenditure when needed by the individual. But in view of the increasing medical costs, people are seeking comprehensive insurance cover to be better protected. Many insurance plans available in Singapore are Medisave-approved and will enhance your coverage.
Why do you need Health Insurance?
If something unfortunate were to happen resulting in huge medical bills, without health insurance, you might have to sell off assets, borrow money from people, or be in debt that you can’t pay back. Health insurances provide a range of benefits to safeguard you from these situations. Depending on the policy you choose, some of the benefits you could avail of are listed below:
- Cashless financial aid in case of hospitalization.
- Reimbursement for hospital expenditure.
- Financial cover for pre and post-hospitalization expenditure.
- Financial cover for prolonged treatments like chemotherapy and dialysis.
- Financial aid for emergency hospitalization.
- Financial protection for your family’s medical expenses.
- Medical check-ups.
- Cover costs of medication.
- Tax benefit.
- Availing cash income during hospital stay.
- Disability income.
- Long-term care.
- Financial aid in the case of critical illness.
Types of Health Insurance
Health insurance policies are available for self, family and groups which are employees of an organisation. Coverage offered depends on different insurance companies.
Insurance companies usually offer two types of health insurances based on payout:
- Direct/cashless insurance – Many hospitals require you to deposit a sum of money as assurance to cover the cost of your treatment, or leave a credit card with them in order to be treated. With certain insurance plans, the insurer will stand as guarantee and you will not be required to pay any money up front. You will be required to present your insurance ID, and a request for cashless hospitalization will be initiated. The insurance company will deal directly with the hospital for any bills and documentation required and approve the request for cashless hospitalization. The total medical bill at the end of your hospitalization will be taken care of by the insurance company. The bill paid by the insurance company will not include non-medical items that were used for your care, such as bed pads, surgical gloves and so on.
- Reimbursement insurance – Under other health insurance policies, you are required to take care of all expenses incurred at the hospital. You can file a claim for insurance, providing all related bills and documentation required, at your own cost. The insurance company will process the claim, and on approval, will reimburse you.
- Hospitalisation & Surgical (H&S) Insurance – A basic insurance plan that will reimburse covered H&S costs incurred due to accidents and illnesses.
- Catastrophic Medical Insurance – An insurance plan that covers major illnesses which usually has steep medical costs. This insurance usually covers prolonged treatment like dialysis, chemotherapy and radiation.
- Supplemental Medical Expense Insurance – This is an additional insurance meant to enhance your coverage and supplement the main medical plan. Its coverage is more extensive range of medical-related issues.
- Long Term Care Insurance – For cases where the insured is unable to perform the usual daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, using the toilet or simply moving around, a fixed monthly amount is disbursed for nursing treatment.
- Critical Illness Insurance – Also known as Dread Disease Plan, it disburses a lump sum if the insured is diagnosed with any of the critical illnesses covered.
- Hospital Cash Insurance – In case of hospitalisation due to an accident or illness, a daily income is paid directly to the insured to help offset regular expenses in the time that he/she is unable to earn an income. This amount is usually fixed at the beginning of the policy for a limited number of days per hospitalization.
- Disability Income Insurance – If the insured were to become totally or partially disabled and unable to work due to an accident or illness, a portion of the regular income is replaced.
List of Agencies/Companies providing health insurance in Singapore
A number of companies provide health insurance with different options to suit your needs and abilities. A few companies are listed below.
FAQs – Health Insurance
- What expenses are covered by the insurance policy during hospitalization?
The insurance generally covers full or partial room or boarding expenses, nursing expenses, fees of the surgeon, physician, anesthetist, consultants and specialists. It will also cover operation theater charges, medicines used, blood, oxygen, X-rays and similar expenses.
- What expenses are not covered by insurance companies?
Expenses covered depends on the policy you have taken and differs from company to company. Generally, during hospitalization, only non-medical expenses will have to be paid by the insured, such absorbent bed pads, surgical gloves, administrative charges of the hospital, toiletries and utility charges, etc. Your policy may not cover expenses for pre-existing conditions, consultation fees and treatment for specific diseases. Please read the offer document carefully.
- Why is it so important to have a health insurance policy?
When we are healthy we tend to ignore the future. Medical issues can arise at any point in time and the cost of being ill can be extremely high. It is wise to seek out a health insurance policy that you will benefit from in your time of need
- How does cashless hospitalization work?
The insurance company will have a tie-up with a network of hospitals. The insured will have to present the insurance ID and the hospital will communicate directly with the insurance company for all payments and procedures. You may be required to pay a minimum amount for admission charge and non-medical items.
- My insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. What is a pre-existing condition? Do I need coverage for it?
A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that occurred before the health insurance policy went into effect. Common pre-existing illnesses are asthma, BP, and diabetes, but it could be any issue you faced before taking the policy. Some policies do not cover pre-existing conditions but many companies offer insurance that covers them. If you are young and healthy, you don’t have anything to worry about it and can take a policy that doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. But if you have had previous medical problems, it is better to seek a comprehensive cover which protects you against illnesses you already have.