Health care System in Singapore
Being one of the most developed countries the whole world, Singapore’s advance healthcare system is the result of great efforts and initiatives that the Government had implemented throughout the year. In the year 2000, Singapore healthcare’s system is ranked as the best in Asia by the World Health Organisation.
Singapore is an ultimate medical destination in Asia when it comes to complex operations like join replacement, assisted reproductive technologies, or organ transplantation. New constantly developing technologies and high-end equipment helped Singapore to win the trust of not only proud natives but also expatriates and foreigners. Overseas patients from neighbouring Asian countries such as India, Indonesia, or Malaysia give their preference to Singapore private clinics for their excellent service, friendly attitude, and affordable medical solutions.
Benefits of Singapore’s Medical Service
- First-class medical expertise & professionalism. It is honourable to be a doctor in a society that values knowledge and experience. Singaporean doctors are being constantly audited as well as clinics undergo regular inspection to detect and avoid any unfitness.
- Cutting-edge equipment. Singapore readily adopts state-of-the-art technologies and invests in medical informatics encouraging medical staff to be open to innovative solutions.
- Central Provident Fund is a comprehensive insurance program that enables employed Singaporeans to accumulate funds on their personal accounts for covering their needs in healthcare (Medisave), insurance (MediShield) and other purchases.
- Multilingual environment. International patients who undergo treatment in Singapore adjust better and do not face language barriers because Singapore is a melting pot of Asian cultures. There are high chances that you’ll get the medical service in your native language.
- Safety. Singapore maintains very high safety standards in blood transfusion. For great management of this service, Centre of Transfusion Medicine was avowed as the WHO’s Collaborating Centre.
Medical Services in Singapore
Today’s Singaporean health care is the result of constant development in 3 directions:
- promoting healthy lifestyle and preventive measures;
- encouraging personal financial responsibility (instead of giving the Singaporeans cheap or free medical services, the government introduces the Central Provident Fund: you regularly contribute a part of your earnings to your personal account and then you can spend these accumulated funds on high-quality medical services all across the country).
- government’s subsidies and control of costs and supply.
Medical facilities in Singapore are governed by the Ministry of Health that claims to believe in assured quality and affordable medical services for everybody. All medical facilities (including laboratories) are obliged to follow professional regulations issued by 5 boards: Singapore Medical council, Pharmacy Board, Nursing Board, Laboratory Board, and Dental Board.
A wide range of private and governmental general and specialty clinics provide all kinds of medical services catering to the needs of various strata of society: everyone is protected on its level of income and contribution to the state. Most of the Singaporeans (up to 80%) undergo treatment in public medical facilities. The yearly government’s expenditure on every public patient is over 1k SGD (no more than 3.9% of the GDP). This is much less than other developed countries (such as the U.K. or the U.S.) spend on their patients yearly. Every Singaporean patient (from the B2 and C class ward) undergoes means testing to determine the level of subsidy he/she deserves (in some cases, not only the salary is being assessed but also the value of their houses).
The quality of services and prices for them in public facilities are government-regulated. Standards for the private medical sector are regulated by the market itself. The cost of services is quite high, but the affordability is achieved mainly by compulsory savings (via Central Provident Fund), government’s cost controls, and subsidies. However, Singapore’s healthcare system isn’t fully subsidised
Singapore has built a solid network of outpatient polyclinics, inpatient hospitals, emergency services, and private healthcare practitioners covering all niches of medicine. Since the 1990s when the restructuring took place, public facilities aren’t government-owned but are run by 5 healthcare groups such as Eastern Health Alliance, National Healthcare Group, SingHealth, Alexandra Health Pte Ltd, and so on. Among private providers, the leaders are Raffles Medical Group and the Parkway Health.
Singapore Health Insurance System
Central Provident Fund is divided into 3 sections: Medisafe (healthcare & retirement), Medishield (insurance), and Medifund (extra needs) in which a working Singaporean contributes a part of the salary every month. Logically, the public medical sector is more involved in this strategy of 3”M” than the private one.
Medisave – Singapore’s national health insurance program – enables able-bodied individuals to accumulate funds on their personal accounts through compulsory deductions from their salaries (7-9% depending on the employee’s age). These funds can be used for necessary medical services not only by the worker himself but also within his family. Based on the amount of funds accumulated, the patient is able to choose the comfortable subsidy level when undergoing treatment: from the highest level when most of the medical expenses are covered by the Medisave savings to the lowest when patients are treated as private ones for their own funds. But what is even more overwhelming is that these accumulated funds draw interest that isn’t taxed in the country and are added to the person’s estate after this person dies.
Funds from the Medisave can also be used for purchasing insurance, for example, premium programs by Medishield (CPF’s insurance part) or private insurance schemes (integrated shield plans approved by the Medisave). The Medisave program is available only for locals (citizens or Singapore permanent residents). In average, every member of the Medisave program withdraws around 700 SGD yearly while the total balance of the program exceeds 50 billion SGD.
Medishield is a mandatory insurance against serious and chronic diseases or prolonged treatment. It is designed for people no older than 85 years old, and the cost of annual premiums depends on the age ranging from approximately 30 SGD for younger people to over 1k SGD for older ones. The Medishield (the same as the Medisave) doesn’t cover 100% of the needs but requires individuals to co-pay from their pockets.
Eldershield is an insurance plan for cases of severe disability or chronic diseases and is designed for older patients. Medifund is an alternative way for the citizens and PRs to cover their medical expenses when the needs exceed the available funds on both Medisave and Medishield.
Except the Medisave, Singaporeans readily buy additional insurances, for example, for a total or a permanent disability and subscribe to the dread disease policy or a life insurance.
Facts Foreigners Should Know About Medical Service in Singapore
- Foreigners working in Singapore on working visas is not required to make compulsory contributions to the CPF or the Medisave, and, therefore, they should rely on their private health care insurances (either maintained by themselves or by their employers). The same refers to foreigners who pursue treatment in Singapore. There are lots of facilities in Singapore who cater to the needs of the private sector (individuals with private insurances, overseas patients or just locals who can afford treatment irrespective of the level of their subsidy). Very often, treatment in government clinics is costlier than the same treatment in the private medical facilities as governmental establishments usually require the in-patients either to provide a credit card or to make a significant deposit before undergoing any therapy.
- As foreigners are not allowed to the CPF and the Medisave, they still can benefit from various non-governmental insurance schemes provided by the National Trades Union Congress that eases access to health providers in Singapore or make it much cheaper.
- Locals and foreigners are free to choose any medical facility either public or private for treatment or consultation. Accident and Emergency Departments that are open 24/7 at the governmental hospitals are responsible in emergency cases. There are 6 public facilities in Singapore: 6 general facilities (like Singapore General Hospital or Tan Tock Seng Hospital) and 2 specialised centres (the psychiatry hospital and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital).
- All work pass holders should be insured via private health insurance in Singapore due to the high medical cost. Employers are required to buy insurance those holding on to S-Pass and Work Permits It is not mandatory for employers to cover the health insurance for all other work pass holders
- For those who are planning to conceive in Singapore, you are required to apply the required permission to give birth in Singapore. Your child can only be grant citizenship unless one of the parents is a Singapore citizen. You can also apply for Dependant Pass to give birth in Singapore.
- A foreign woman delivering a child in Singapore have a right for the maternity leave, but its conditions vary for different categories of foreigners. Common requirements are: being legally married with the baby’s father and having worked for the employer during at least 3 months before the delivery. If the baby is a Singapore citizen, the maternity leave would be 16 weeks long. If the baby isn’t a citizen or the mother is a permanent resident or a foreigner (covered by the Employment Act), the leave would be 12 weeks long.
Delivering of Baby in Singapore
Pregnant women from neighbouring countries often choose Singapore for giving birth to their children due to a top-notch delivery and gynaecological services and effective policies friendly to the mother and child. The cost varies depending on the clinic preferred, as well as the method of delivery, type of the ward, and the period of stay after the delivery.
- To give birth in Singapore, a foreign pregnant woman needs:
- to submit the application for permission to give birth in Singapore to the Immigration and Registration office;
- to have a local sponsor (either a Singaporean or a permanent resident) who will pay the security bond (1k-5k SGD depending on the mother’s nationality; it is refunded to the sponsor after the mother and the baby leave Singapore);
- to provide such documents:
- Forms 14, V39, and IMME 555;
- woman’s marriage certificate;
- sponsor’s ID or re-entry permit (for the PR) – provided by the sponsor;
- medical officer’s letter describing the expected due date and possible complications;
- letter from the Embassy of the mother’s country stating that the baby will get his/her mother’s nationality and the travel document;
- copy of the mother’s valid passport (or another travel document).
If the child wasn’t born in any hospital, the doctor/ambulance staff must give the mother the Notification of Live Birth which must be submitted for the registration along with other documents (original marriage certificate, parents’ entry permits and passports, and so on).
After delivering the child, the mother has 14-42 days to register her child with the Birth Registration Centre in the hospital or – if there is no such centre in the facility she gave birth in – in the ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority). In case of delay, the mother needs to provide an explanation of such delay. After the authority approves, the mother obtains the Birth Certificate.
As a whole, Singapore has one of the best healthcare system in the world despite it’s high medical for foreign. Therefore, it is crucial for you to consider by a private insurance in Singapore which is relatively cheap if you select the local package coverage instead of the international coverage.
Only Singapore PRs or Citizens enjoys the highly subsidized rate for the medical cost covered by the medisave and medishield life which is the universal healthcare under the pension scheme. If you are interested in applying for Singapore PR, you consult us for further advice.