6 reasons why healthcare is so expensive in Singapore

Healthcare in Singapore is expensive, that’s no surprise for a city that has been recently appointed the most expensive city in the world by a recent study. The price of healthcare in Singapore is therefore one of the numerous reasons why expatriates buy a private health insurance when moving here. So have you ever wondered why healthcare is so expensive in Singapore?

Private vs public sector

Healthcare in Singapore is divided in two sectors: public/restructured hospitals and private facilities. One of the differences between these two is the price. Expats in Singapore appreciate private healthcare because of the many additional (sometimes luxurious) services and the international highly-experienced doctors, who nevertheless set their own prices. These services and highly-demanded doctors can cost a lot.

No subsidized rates for expats in Singapore

Expats in Singapore do not benefit from the local “social security” , Medisave, which is only accessible to Singaporean citizens and permanent residents (PRs). Public medical facilities offer subsidized prices to the latter in addition to a certain percentage of their bills paid by their Medisave fund. Therefore some healthcare facilities in Singapore have two rates: one for citizens and PRs and one (higher) for foreigners. That is why expats in Singapore buy private health insurance.

Juniors vs seniors

In Singapore, you can choose to see a junior doctor or a more experienced professional. Of course, the more experienced the doctor, the higher his rates.

Quality healthcare

Healthcare in Singapore is expensive but you are sure that public and private hospitals are equipped with the latest medical technology and good furniture, the staff is caring and highly-trained, facilities are well maintained and the whole process is efficient. That is why many foreigners from other Asian countries come to Singapore for what is called “medical tourism”.

Caring and cautious doctors

Another reason that increases the final amount on your medical bill is that doctors in Singapore are very caring and cautious, especially in the private sector. They are very likely to suggest you to do additional tests or scans and to take many pharmaceuticals to make sure you will heal quickly. They may also tell you that you have a (even small) probability to have this or that condition, not because they want you to be worried but simply because it happens that some patients suit their doctor after developing a severe disease their doctor didn’t warn them about. Do not hesitate to seek second medical opinion.

Cost of healthcare and location

The price of healthcare in Singapore is also linked to the size and the location of the clinic or hospital you visit. A family clinic in a HDB in Woodlands (north of Singapore) is very likely to charge you less than a doctor located in the CBD (centre of Singapore) or in a neighbourhood packed with expat families. To save money on healthcare expenses, you can either find a cheap clinic far from the centre of the city or get a comprehensive health insurance which provides you with a wide cashless medical network. Then you can simply go to the nearest clinic in the network.

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Date of publication May 6 2016