As an expat, there's a lot of details to take care of when moving house. And, as you know, moving countries ramps things up tenfold. In all the excitement, a few things may have been forgotten, with medical insurance being one of them.
Here's a comparison of health systems in Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Check out the differences so you know what to expect now that you're in Singapore. If you still need a little more information to decide on your healthcare in Singapore, we're always here to help.
Singapore: Universal health insurance
Singapore is ranked among the top countries for providing the highest healthcare standards. Like the UK's NHS system, Singapore's government-run and publicly funded National Healthcare Plan (NHP) aims to be "universally" available to everyone. Thanks to mandatory contributions from eligible employees' salaries into the Central Provident Fund (CPF), those same residents have access to affordable healthcare services. If you're an expat working in Singapore, you don't have to contribute to the CPF, but there's a caveat: this also means you can't access the NHP - only Singapore citizens and permanent residents qualify. Expats must pay for their medical treatments in cash.
Because of this, many expats opt for private insurance if it's not provided by their employer. If you're around age 45, you can expect to pay around SGD3,300 per year for your health insurance, depending on gender and coverage. This will be lower if you're 25, and premiums go up significantly if you're over 65.
United States: No universal healthcare
The government provides health insurance plans to individuals such as the impoverished, veterans, the elderly and the disabled. Many expats are covered through their employer or by third-party insurers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) (commonly known as "Obamacare") was designed to provide healthcare to every uninsured American. Those who choose to not have any medical insurance plan at all face an annual fine based on their income.
United Kingdom: NHS state-funded healthcare system
The publicly funded National Health Service system (NHS) has offered universal coverage for everyone in the UK since 1948. Patients have access to doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists at any public healthcare facility. England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all operate their own systems, with each dictating the allocation of funds received from the government.
UK citizens and expats may buy private insurance, either as a stand-alone or as a supplement to the NHS.
Australia: Hybrid of public and private sector healthcare
A percentage of all workers' wages funds Medicare, with contributions differing depending on age and earnings. This gives Australians access to doctors, specialists, hospitalisation benefits and outpatient treatments in the public system, with no co-payments or deductibles.
Many Australians opt for extra coverage with private health insurance policies - the government even encourages it. This private insurance covers co-payments for large medical bills, major medical emergencies and treatments that are excluded from the Medicare policy.
Choosing the right healthcare plan
Healthcare can vary greatly depending on where you live, and Singapore is no different. As an expat, finding the right health insurance can be time consuming and confusing.
Exclusions are common so take the time to read the fine print of any policy. If you're still having trouble deciding on a healthcare plan that's best suited for you and your family, at HSBC Singapore we can explain the differences between the policies and guide you through the process.
As a global citizen, you can continue to enjoy peace of mind by signing up for the comprehensive health insurance policy offered by HSBC's healthcare partner, AXA.
Good luck, and stay well.