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Medical Service in Singapore

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Tiny Singapore is famous for its strict laws and high cleanness standards. The same standards were adopted by the national healthcare system making it a perfect medical destination for patients who value cutting-edge infrastructure, cleanness, professional services, and English-speaking personnel. Yearly, tiny Singapore attracts hundreds of foreigners (mainly from Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, UAE, and PRC) pursuing high-quality services they cannot get in their native countries. Treatment in Singapore is more expensive than anywhere else in Asia, but the high cost repays with reliable service, professionalism, and comfort. Patients from top-tier countries (such as the US, UK, or Canada) also consider treatment in Singapore as here they are able to get world-class medical services for a much lower price.

The US, Germany and Israel have been leaders of medical tourism for decades, but today they are being pressed by Asian medical hubs that provide first-class services for the third-class price. Singapore is one of them. Yearly, it receives over 400 thousand foreign patients. In 2011, it served 30% of the world’s medical tourists. The young country that started to build its healthcare only half a century ago achieved incredible results, especially in such medical discipline as transplantology. Singapore is among the world’s leaders in transplanting organs from living donors and stem cells transplantation that helps to cure some oncological diseases that were early considered incurable.        

Bloomberg praised Singapore’s healthcare as the world’s most efficient in 2014. The country has developed a unique healthcare system that is hardly replicable somewhere else. It is free of corruption and competently financed, and the Singaporeans take pride in it. 

Although the US and the UK have much higher yearly expenditures (percentage of GDP assigned to healthcare; 3.9% in Singapore), their citizens live a shorter life than their counterparts in Singapore (average lifetime for the Singaporeans is 79 years for men and 84 for women. The country has grounded its healthcare system not on the state’s subsidies, but on the citizens’ personal financial responsibility: employed individuals contribute 7-9% of their monthly salary to their personal accounts in the Singapore’s national insurance scheme (Medisave), and then these funds are used for covering their major needs in healthcare. 

Benefits of Medical Services in Singapore

  • A competitive health care system that was ranked 6th by the WHO in 2000 and 1st by the Bloomberg in 2014. Singapore holds very high standards of professionalism and cleanness and has effective laws that eliminate any possibility of medical malpractice.
  • Singapore is a well-developed urbanised country where you won’t face chaos and untidiness common in other Asian countries. It has the lowest corruption rate in Asia, and, therefore, dealing with authorities is a pleasure here.
  • Many of Singapore’s clinics and medical facilities have accreditation by JCI.
  • All Singaporean clinics are packed with state-of-the-art equipment that are constantly updated for a better safety and reliability.
  • Singapore is focused on biotechnological innovations. If you are looking for a new and rare treatment, you should inquire about it in Singapore.
  • Singaporean doctors are well-educated and regularly undergo practice in foreign clinics.
  • English is one of Singapore’s official languages, so patients from all over the world can easily communicate with doctors. This fact puts Singapore on the front foot among other English-speaking countries with much costlier medicine. Some private clinics offer translation services for patients who speak none of Singapore’s official languages.
  • Most procedures and therapies in Singapore are much cheaper than the same services in the U.S. For example, a serious surgery like valve replacement can cost up to $160k in the U.S. would cost you only $12-13k in Singapore (you save up to 90%). A coronary bypass surgery in Singapore would cost you $13-18k instead of $50-130k in the U.S. The average economy for “serious” medical services is 50-90% if you opt for Singapore.
  • There are no price markups for tourists in Singapore. Every foreign patient pays the same fee as the Singaporean does.
  • Singapore is a great opportunity to get necessary treatment faster (in some countries, for example, the U.K., patients have to wait in a queue for years in order to undergo a planned treatment.
  • Singapore maintains very high safety standards in blood transfusion. Centre of Transfusion Medicine is avowed as the WHO’s Collaborating Centre for a top-notch management of this service.
  • Some clinics adopt techniques of traditional Chinese medicine (massage, herbal therapy, or acupuncture), and, therefore, patients have a wider assortment of procedures in Singapore.

Drawbacks of Medical Service in Singapore

  • The cost of medical services in Singapore will be much higher than in other Asian countries (Thailand, India, or Malaysia).
  • Singapore has a wet and hot climate which can be uncomfortable for patients from moderate climate zones especially on the post-surgery recovery stage.
  • The cost of living in Singapore is much higher than in other Asian countries (the comforting circumstance is that the quality is also very high).
  • Long flights for patients from Europe, the U.S., and Canada.

Medical Services Foreigners Arrive in Singapore for

The most popular medical services that are in demand among foreigners are:

  • Orthopaedic surgery: spinal surgery, knee replacement, hip replacement etc.
  • Heart surgery: valve replacement, coronary angiography, and so on.
  • Neurology & neurosurgery: multiple sclerosis, stroke, epilepsy etc.
  • Eye surgery: LASIK, retinal detachment, cataract, glaucoma, and so on.
  • Bariatric surgery: gastric band surgery, sleeve gastrectomy, and so on.
  • Dental services: bridges, crowns, surgery, dental implants etc.
  • Cosmetic surgery: breast lift, facelift, rhinoplasty etc.
  • Pediatrics: pediatric orthopedics, ophthalmology, surgery, nephrology etc.
  • Aesthetic procedures: laser hair or veins removal, mole removal, juvederm, and so on.
  • Oncology: comprehensive check-up and treatment.
  • Giving birth: pre-labor examinations, labor, and post-labor recovery.
  • Assisted reproductive technologies: in-vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and so on.

Medical Facilities

Foreigners pursuing treatment in Singapore have no access to the national Medisave program and have to rely on their personal private insurances. Singapore has built a dense network of inpatient hospitals, outpatient polyclinics, private healthcare practitioners, and emergency services covering all niches of medicine. Singapore has a perfectly equipped emergency vehicle fleet, and the emergency service is available 24/7. Even hotel rooms are developed to meet needs of disabled visitors and equipped with various “emergency call” devices.

Most of Singapore’s medical facilities are public (where most of the Singaporeans receive treatment), but there are also lots of private clinics such as, for example, the Parkway and Raffles clinics that offer premium healthcare services. Raffles facilities are famous for having wards that are as luxurious as 5-star hotel suites. ALL medical facilities in Singapore boast state-of-the-art infrastructure, highly qualified and English-speaking personnel, and reliable medical services.

Foreigners usually prefer private facilities, and the most outstanding among them are:

1. Raffles Medical Group’s facilities. Since the group was founded in 1976, its clinics perfect their medical excellence in both outpatient and inpatient services in more than 35 medical disciplines. The Raffles main clinic is located in the very centre of the city. The group has also launched the service centre for foreign patients, one-day surgery departments, intensive (and neonatal intensive) care units, and facilities in the Changi Airport (in order to meet their patients right upon their arrival). Raffles facilities are more than just clinics: they do their best to give their patients more comfort in luxury and cosy hotel-style wards (economic options are available as well).

2. Parkway hospitals. Medical company Parkway Pantai Ltd is one of the largest providers of innovative and reliable medical services not only in Singapore, but also in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, and so on. In Singapore, the company has founded 4 state-of-the-art clinics: Mount Elizabeth Orchard, Mount Elizabeth Novena, Gleneagles, and Parkway East. Their key specialisations are oncology, liver, kidney, and stem cell transplants as well as maternity, reproductive technologies, gynaecology, and paediatric. The Gleaneagles clinic is home to one of the world’s best oncology centres – Parkway Cancer Centre. It develops and adopts the latest innovations in cancer treatment such as PET/CT (Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography) that helps to detect cancer cells using radioactive glucose, TomoTherapy that helps to define an accurate dose of irradiation and protect healthy cells, and CyberKnife that removes tumours of any size without surgery.

Accreditation of Singapore Hospitals and Doctors

Most of the hospitals and specialty centres in Singapore take foreign patients for treatment, and most of the country’s large hospitals have international accreditation by the Joint Commission International (USA), International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), and OHSAS (Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Services). 21 clinics were accredited by the JCI in 2014.

Singapore’s medical facilities get local accreditation from the Health Promotion Board, Ministry of Health, and Singapore Accreditation Council. The latter works in a team with the Health Sciences Authority to control certification of medical equipment and other healthcare products. 5 boards keep a vigilant watch on the professional activity of doctors and medical workers: Singapore Medical council, Laboratory Board, Pharmacy Board, Nursing Board, and Dental Board.

Personnel

For Singapore, knowledge is a cult and the keystone of the country’s economy. The government invests not only in education but also in maintaining the professional level of its workers. The majority of the 10 thousand of doctors have postgraduate degrees and wide medical practice abroad. Doctors working in public medical facilities must undergo ongoing postgraduate training and overseas practice at the foreign medical centres with international recognition. According to Singapore’s laws, after being graduated from a university, a doctor must work for 10 years in a public medical facility and only after it, to pursue a private practice.

There is a significant difference in cost between services of a private and a “public” doctor. The cost of treatment in a public hospital already includes a doctor’s fee. Public facilities develop schedules of fees (which you can track on the clinics’ websites, by the way) their doctors have to follow while private doctors are independent and set their own prices which are, of course, higher. Taking into consideration also the affordability of the ward, treatment in private clinics can be much costlier.

Singaporean doctors must have a Medical Malpractice Insurance which isn’t that expensive here as in, for example, the United States and is quickly repaid by the high cost of medical services and treatments.

Entry Requirements for Singapore

Entry requirements are different for various countries. Patients from the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, and the European Union don’t need an entry visa to Singapore (foreigners coming from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, South Korea, and the U.S. are eligible for the 90-day stay while other countries get the entry permit only for 30 days). Another 39 countries that need a visa to Singapore are divided into 2 groups:

  • Level 1 (need only an electronic visa which can be obtained online): Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and so on), India, China, Turkmenistan, and others.
  • Level 2 (need a full visa): African countries (Algeria, Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt etc.) and Near East Asian countries (Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya etc.).

Apart from the visa, other mandatory requirements for foreigners visiting Singapore are:

  • passport with validity of no less than 6 months;
  • return ticket;
  • sufficient funds for the declared stay in Singapore and the treatment itself;
  • sufficient proof of having ties to your home country (a family or a job).

The passport control in Singapore is very scrupulous and arrival isn’t your guarantee or getting the entry permit. If you need help with getting the visa or more details about the entry to Singapore, please feel free to ask our visa consultants.

Treatment can take longer than 30 days provided by the regular entry permit. If the pre-surgery, surgery and post-surgery period exceed 30 days, it is possible to extend legal stay in Singapore by obtaining an additional permit (valid for up to 90 days) in the Singapore Embassy or Consulate in the patient’s home country. If you find out that your treatment requires more time when you are already in Singapore, you can obtain the special permit at the ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority).

If you are looking for the latest and absolutely save healthcare solutions for a reasonable price, consider Singapore as your medical destination. It is a world-class healthcare hub where you can get rid of your pains and sufferings without paying a fortune.

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