The potentially high cost of medical treatment in Singapore is often talked about, and one of the key ways that we can shield ourselves from a sudden, large medical bill is via personal health or medical insurance – be it MediShield, Integrated Shield Plans, Critical Illness Plans, or others. However, one type of insurance that may often be overlooked is company health insurance.
Potentially High Cost of Medical Treatment in Singapore
The cost of medical treatment in Singapore can be high, and can be unaffordable for those without adequate insurance coverage. Let us look at the cost of treatment for 2 of the most common critical illnesses in Singapore – cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Treatment for cancer at an advanced stage can easily cost over $100,000. In an estimation done by local site Seedly together with the Singapore Cancer Society, the annual cost for late-stage cancer treatment may well reach $200,000 per year.
On the other hand, estimates for the average cost of treatment for ischaemic heart diseases range from about $3,000 (subsidised, at a public hospital ward), to $12,000 (unsubsidised, at a public hospital ward). Treatment at a private hospital can cost double that, with an average bill size of about $24,000. If heart bypass surgery is needed, it will cost on average about $7,000 in a public subsidised hospital ward, and about $75,000 in a private hospital.
For visits to GPs for minor illnesses and injuries, the consultation fees (i.e. excluding medication) typically ranges from about $30 to $90, depending on the clinic, whether the visit is on a weekday or a weekend, and the timing of the day of the visit (night-time vs day-time). A&E charges in public hospitals will be around $120-$132. Initial charges for A&E at private hospitals are in the mid-$100 range, but you can expect further treatment to be substantially more costly compared to public hospitals.
Insufficient Coverage Under Personal Health Insurance On Average
Despite the high cost of medical treatment in Singapore, a study by the Life Insurance Associate Singapore finds that people in Singapore are under-insured on average. This leaves a protection gap for which people might find it difficult to handle sudden large medical bills. Medical protection coverage under company health insurance will thus be very important for under-insured individuals.
The situation of high medical costs will be worse for lower income foreign workers. There are over 1 million foreign workers in Singapore as of Jun 2022 according to MOM, excluding Migrant Domestic Workers. This forms a substantial proportion of the total labour force of about 3.6 million. While not all of them are in the lower-wage category, there is nonetheless still a large fraction of the labour pool that will especially benefit from the provision of coverage under company health insurance.
Some Key Benefits Of Company Health Insurance Vs Personal Health Insurance
For employees, one potential key benefit of company health insurance compared to personal insurance is that pre-existing medical conditions may be covered under company insurance (varies on a case-by-case basis, and will be subject to terms and conditions). This is unlike personal health insurance which typically exclude pre-existing conditions. Another benefit of company health insurance is that there is the option of extending coverage to employee’s spouse and children too.
For SMEs that are small family-run business employing mainly family members, providing family members with bulk coverage under company health insurance can be cheaper than via individual insurance plans. This can allow for substantial savings for the family.
Company Health Insurance In Singapore
In Singapore, employers are required under law to provide some employee insurance. This includes work injury compensation insurance, which is required under the Work Injury Compensation Act (applicable for foreign and local employees under a contract of service or contract of apprenticeship, regardless of salary, age or citizenship). There is also a requirement for foreign worker medical insurance. This is applicable for foreign workers working in Singapore, with a mandatory coverage of at least $15,000 per year per worker. This covers inpatient care and day surgery, and also hospital bills that are non-work related. Besides these, there are no other legislated requirement for additional health or medical insurance for (non-Migrant Domestic Worker) employees.
Company Health Insurance Can Be A Differentiating Factor For Recruiters
A survey carried out by Prudential in Apr 2022 shows that 9 out of 10 of SME employees want their employers to provide medical in-patient and out-patient benefits. The provision of such benefits can thus be a key factor in helping SMEs compete against large companies in attracting and retaining manpower. If there are SMEs that are not providing health insurance for their employees, or are providing health benefits out of pocket, company health insurance is an option they should consider seriously. The provision of more comprehensive medical benefits for employees (e.g. coverage of pre-existing conditions or coverage of spouse and children) can be a differentiating factor for recruiters.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.