Most people would think that they can make do without a health insurance as long as they are maintaining a diet and exercising regularly. Working adults who enter the workforce would consider health insurance to be an unnecessary expense that does not make any sense at all. The reason may be due to the fact that being hospitalized getting into accidents or any mishaps only happens to them once in a blue moon. If an accident were to occur, they would rather pay that “one-off” medical bill than to pay a monthly or annual premium to an insurance company. Furthermore, most Singaporeans are believe that their Medisave is more than sufficient to cover any hospitalization bills.
Accidents are like natural disasters, no one would be able to predict when they will meet into an accident, these accidents and mishaps will hit you when you least expect it to. But a health insurance would only prove its worth when adversity arises, people will truly see value in purchasing one when something bad happens to them.
Singapore’s Healthcare Subsidy
The Singapore Government has made it mandatory that part of any working adults’ monthly salary is to be contributed to fund their own medisave alongside with the usual CPF(savings) contribution. As long as they are warded to a public hospital, your medical expenses can be heavily subsidized from the medisave account. However, depending on the situation, the medisave account has its own limitations to prevent anyone from misusing the funds that should be set aside for emergency use.
Medishield Life comes next as it acts as the second safety net in the event if the Medisave account has insufficient funds to be deducted for complex surgeries and operations. All Singaporeans and permanent residents are entitled to a MediShield Life insurance. Not only will they be covered automatically under this basic health insurance, the government has made it hassle free as there is no registration needed. MediShield Life aids patients with larger medical bills such as dialysis treatments and all other pre-existing health problems like liver failure and cancer.
The last initiative which acts as a final safety net for all Singaporeans and PRs would be the MediFund. MediFund helps relieve needy patients if they are not able to fork out any money to pay for their own medical bills. However, MediFund is only catered to those who have financial difficulties and there are criterias to be met before you are eligible to utilize MediFund.
After exhausting all financial subsidiaries and governmental aids, if the medical bill is still not being cleared, the patient has to bear the remaining costs at his/her own discretion, coming out from their own pocket. This may happen at times if the patient is required to go through hefty complicated surgical operations that are inevitable when their lives are at stake.
How much is enough?
Did the government provide sufficient medical coverage to cover Singaporean’s hospitalization bills? Or should you have to purchase multiple health insurance plans to be able to cushion all medical expenses incurred? How well insured should you be?
When asked if Singaporeans have enough insurance, Mon Chao, founder of Mon Chao Assurance, responded with a blunt no, saying “Research after research has shown that Singaporeans are largely underinsured. Most people only start thinking about life insurance when they witness a health-related crisis that happened within their social circle. Many also has the misconception that what CPF provides is more than sufficient and private insurance is either a waste of money or a hoax.”
Jasmine Tan, Assistant Vice President of ChamberWealth, finds that most Singaporeans think they have enough and that they may think they have covered everything. Tan believes that having enough depends on the type and quality of lifestyle they want when they are down with illness or disability.”The amount of enough is not what we asked them to buy or they need to buy, it is what amount they want in order to continue to have the kind of lifestyle they want when they are sick and unable to work,” she adds.
She further illustrates her point, saying “When you are hospitalised, what type of hospital facilities and services that one want, Private Hospital or Government Restructured Hospital? Do you want to receive an income of cash when you are hospitalised? If you are disable and unable to perform your profession or any other job, do you still want to receive an income? Lastly, if you are unable to take care of yourself temporary or permanently, do you want someone to cover the cost to hire a care taker for you?”
Everyone has their own battles to fight, have their own current circumstances where some are not permitted to fork out any other additional expenses. As individuals, everyone would have their own perspective and commitments to tend to. But when it comes to a mishap, some would require immediate medical attention but some are perfectly fine even if there is a long waiting queue ahead. Day in day out, hospitals are sardine-packed with patients coming in with their own personal medical problems which is considered serious to them.
If an individual deems that the basic healthcare that the government is providing would suffice them, they are able to continue so without any third party health insurance.
Third-Party Health Insurance
There are just too many third party health insurers out there in this day and age. How would you know which one is a good fit? Some insurers may have a higher premium but better coverage, some may have an affordable premium but has a much better coverage that is essential in a health insurance. So many to choose from, where should you start?
Third party insurers are after all companies. Health insurance is a product that is being offered to the consumers and of course, with rising competition, each and every one of these brands has to offer health benefits and coverage that would entice consumers. Look out for the list of partner hospitals and do a brief check or ask around if their healthcare is comprehensive enough, admitting into a reputable hospital would ease the minds of everyone because you know that you will be well taken care of. Ensure that all fine prints have been read and you are well aware of the deductibles moving forward, depending on your health condition, take note of the various treatments that are excluded from the list in the event if that particular treatment is needed urgently.
Identify The Right Health Insurance For Yourself
What are the ways to check whether one’s health insurance coverage suffices, and how can one ensure that it does?
Jasmine Tan has a list of questions that one can refer to ask themselves. “Ask yourself questions like – If I’m sick with critical illness what type of hospital or doctors I want to go to? Is my hospital expenses being covered? And do I want to continue to work or can I rest at least for 2 or 3 years not working if I’m sick with critical illness and not worrying about the living expenses? Can I or do I want to have the same lifestyle if I’m sick critical illness and can not work? If I am unable to work due to disability, do I still want to receive an monthly income to cover my living expenses? What if I am unable to take care of myself, am I able to hire a care taker to take care of me for long term? You then have to make sure you have some put aside or planned.”
Mon Chao further adds to the list, adding questions on should ask, “For instance, will the individual want to have the option to obtain best medical coverage when they fall sick? Do they already have an emergency fund set up?”
“I have met people who tell me that they will not seek treatment if they were to fall sick, preferring to rather pass away as soon as possible instead. Personally, I feel that the coverage for medical plans really depend on the kind of treatment the person is expecting to receive when they are ill. Some are alright with C class governmental hospital ward while others will expect a 5 star hotel treatment in a private hospital,” he further comments.
There is also the question of affordability.”Of course we can say that the it will definitely be sufficient if one signs up for the best medical plan available, but not everyone is able to afford that.”
“It is really hard to answer this question as the definition of “sufficient” is hard to tell for a medical plan as it differs from person to person. It is important to understand the expectations of the person and try to match it when we propose a solution.” Mon Chao believes that ample fact-finding must be conducted so one can align the expectations accordingly with the plan, further adding, “It is much more straight forward when it comes to life insurance coverage as a straight forward calculation can be done to calculate the liabilities (outstanding mortgage loan, kids, parents etc.) of an individual and subsequently a life/term plan of the identified amount can be recommended to the person.
The founder of Mon Chao Assurance concludes his point with an advice, “Financial planning can be intimidating and complex for a layman so it is best to speak to a trusted financial planner and once you find one, be sure to do a financial review with them year on year to make sure the coverage is adequate.” Mon Chao Assurance provides comprehensive financial consultation services, to walk you through your needs in wealth accumulation, protection for your family and the preparation for the unexpected.
Moneysmart has a list that shows which health insurance you should consider getting based on your needs. Everyone has different needs and perspectives differ from one another. The most commonly sought after coverage that Singaporeans would go for would be to have all their medical expenses paid for. Most corporations would have their employees covered, being hospitalized or during medical leaves, their salaries will not be affected.
Technology these days has made life so much more convenient. Sites such as Gobear, has made comparison that much easier. Simply enter your personal details and there will be a list of insurers provided.
Compare between various insurers in Singapore and see which plans fit you the best. Gobear has a couple of useful features where they offer a coverage score sheet to rate how well a health insurance is overall. Reviews and feedbacks helps especially when it adds credibility to the insurer and the insurance plan as well.
Before committing into a health insurance, here are some questions that you ought to consider:
- Do i want to be admitted to a public or private hospital?
- Do i want to be able to choose from a panel of doctors and hospitals?
- Do i want to have my ward shared?
- Do i need my ward to be air-conditioned?
- Do i want my hospitalization bills subsidized partially or fully?
Health insurance helps alleviate the financial aspect if an accident were to happen. The last thing anyone would want to do is to contemplate and weigh their options, whether to proceed with or without an operation. When it comes to a life and death situation, If it is not attended immediately it would only result in severe consequences.
No one wants to be bedridden or hospitalized at all, unless one has the capability to fork out straight cash to pay off from the smallest surgery to major operations, it is highly recommended that everyone should get a health insurance for themselves, this is your way of showing responsibility to the ones around, instead of adding financial burden and further stress to your love ones. Keep yourself insured and protected from the unforeseen medical conditions or health issues, eat healthy, exercise regularly, last but not least, get yourself insured with a health insurance for a peace of mind.
Types of insurance you must have
What are the types of health insurance that everyone should have, at the bare minimum?
“Medical and life.” Mon Chao responds, “These two plans form the foundation of any financial portfolio as it protects the assets of the individual when a health crisis occurs.” He further explains that there is no point focusing of accumulating cash but end up a square one if a critical illness were to strike. “An insurance guru once told me: ‘If a person cannot even afford health insurance, they definitely cannot afford to fall sick.’ It is as simple as that.”
Jasmine Tan also notes that medical expenses in Singapore are expensive and rising in costs, “Minimally, everyone should have an integrated hospital plan with rider to cover the big medical bills and expenses, and a critical illness plan which will take care of the daily living expenses, when one can at least rest and not working for 2 or 3 years.”Jasmine Tan is the Assistant Vice President of ChamberWealth – a financial advisory focused on your needs
ZUU Investment Disclaimer: The information given above is based on our experts’ field of expertise and their own personal experience, and should not be relied on or construed as financial advice. ZUU online recommends that our readers take these pieces of advice as a starting point, to research and then assess the merits of this advice based on their own financial needs, investment goals, and risk tolerance.
(By Lionel Lau)
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