Health is a segment in your budget which is usually cost-heavy. As predicting diseases and costs related to them is almost impossible, it is best to have an insurance policy that covers you against diseases.
While Singapore has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world with a large number of JCI-affiliated hospitals, it can be a tad too costly to afford without assistance. Your health insurance policy offers that assistance.
Singaporeans contribute anywhere between 6.5% and 9% of their monthly salaries towards their Medisave account. While Medisave monies can be used for current and future medical emergencies, it will only cover the basic costs.
Medisave, a component of your CPF account, can be used for the MediShield plan that aims to take care of your healthcare and nursing needs.
To get enhanced health coverage, you can look at the many insurance policies available in the market. You can get an idea of the best health insurance plans currently available here.
While private insurance plans, especially those with riders, offer enhanced coverage, they come with strict exclusion policies. MediShield Life covers even those with pre-existing medical conditions.
In addition to being offered at a subsidised rate, the policy offers special waivers for those financially unstable or not in a position to pay the premiums. It also has no minimum or maximum entry age.
If you think that your MediShield plan won’t cover your additional nursing and hospital visit expenses or you want to upgrade to a higher class in-patient facility, you can count on a policy provided by a private insurer.
Private covers are in general more comprehensive and give you a chance to append additional features for a fee. If you continue to stay with the same policy and renew your plan without fail, the premium may be reduced over time or covers may be increased to reward your loyalty. The private medical policies also tend to be more flexible and customisable.
Choosing the right insurance cover for you and your family is not an easy task. Premium shouldn’t be the only parameter of selection because a low-premium plan may have a lot of exclusions and restrictions on claim limiting the number of situations under which claim can be made.
When choosing a cover, think about your future needs also. What is the coverage for hospitalisation, critical disease care, or surgery? What are the pre-existing condition restrictions? Is there a limit on the age of coverage? All these factors should be considered and deliberated upon before a choice is made.
Once you have chosen a health cover and paid the premium for the first year, you’ll have to start acquainting yourself with the renewal clauses governing your policy. Some of the important points that you need to take note of are:
Remembering your policy renewal date isn’t easy. It can vary from plan to plan. While going through the fine print of the policy is recommended, it may not be always possible. To avoid confusions, most insurers will send you a notice before your date of renewal. It is usually one month prior to the date but could be earlier.
The letter aims to remind you of the exact date of renewal, the premium amount and specific clauses attached to these. Some insurers will send you a second reminder within the grace period. If you fail to pay the premium even after the expiry of the grace period, the insurer reserves the right to withdraw the cover and terminate your plan permanently. This means that you won’t be able to make a claim pertaining to a health issue post withdrawal of the cover.
In such a case, you can apply for the plan again. The insurer can make extensive changes to the terms and conditions of the plan before allowing you to rejoin.
If you want to make changes to your renewal plan or specific details under the plan, you’ll have to download a request form from the insurer’s website and mail/email/fax it to them. The process may vary from insurer to insurer and you may have to personally get in touch with your insurer for more details.
Some policies will provide you with increased benefits on renewal. When choosing a plan, don’t forget to enquire about the enhanced benefits, if any, and the preconditions for enjoying them.
For example, the MyShield integrated health plan underwritten by Aviva offers a number of enhanced benefits like family discounts for children, free newborn benefit, and more. The Globalis plan, underwritten by QBE, offers enhanced maternity benefits after the first and second renewal to recognise your loyalty.
If your plan offers you guaranteed lifetime renewal, it means that the premium you pay from the date of inception of the plan is going to stay in effect throughout the entire tenure of the policy, provided you continue to renew your policy on time.
This is usually a more expensive option as compared to non-guaranteed premium but it hedges you against any likely future spikes in premium.
It needs to be clarified here that an insurer may change the premium, benefits, or other clauses even for a guaranteed-premium plan at the time of renewal. But, unlike non-guaranteed plans, an insurer won’t be able to change the premium after a major claim during the policy period.
The overall cost for a non-guaranteed premium tends to be lower. The projected cost usually remains the same but there is a possibility of cost escalation later on – the number of claims or quantum of each claim may be taken into consideration by the insurer for determining the rate of premium.
A cover may be cancelled by your insurer or you by giving adequate notice to the other party before a renewal date. Read the terms and conditions of your plan to know more about the policy termination clauses.