7 common mistakes when buying international health insurance in Singapore

Health care in Singapore is costly, very costly sometimes, that is why it is essential to get a good health insurance as soon as you arrive in the Lion city. So how do you choose a health cover on the market? Don’t hurry and understand you needs first. Our advice will help you to make the right decision.

Don’t focus on the annual limit of a cover

You can find different covers on the market with an annual limit of reimbursement from S$100,000 to several millions of dollars. If you reach these very high limits within a year, it would mean, unfortunately, that you are suffering from a severe condition (an advanced cancer for example) or spend many weeks in an intensive care unit. The annual limit applies for all your medical expenses covered by your health insurance: hospitalisation, surgery, doctor’s fees, medicine, etc. (according to the terms and conditions of your policy). Whatever this limit is, you should pay attention to the sublimits that apply to every benefit of your health cover. The annual limit may be very high while hospitalisation is reimbursed up to $10,000 only, for example. Insurance companies also offer co-payment or co-insurance options, which set a percentage of the final bill you agree to pay by yourself, in order to lower the premium. These options are quite tricky since you never know your medical expenses in advance and even if the percentage of co-insurance seems reasonable, the amount you will have to pay at the end may be high.
So look carefully at the annual limit AND the sublimits of reimbursement of your health insurance. Note also that annual limits of $500,000 to $2,000,000 per year are enough for most of individuals.

Don’t go for the cheapest health cover

When you are on a budget, you first look for the cheapest health insurance on the market. This is possible in Singapore through local providers. However there are many reasons to explain why a local cover and an international health insurance have different prices. That is why you won’t necessarily have a good coverage, if the premium is very low. The benefits and services of your insurance won’t suit your needs and you will end up with paying most of your medical expenses, which can run very high in Singapore.

Don’t buy the most expensive health insurance thinking it must be the best one

Nonetheless, a high premium doesn’t necessarily ensure that you have the best possible health cover that suits your needs. Full-refund policies for in-patient, out-patient, maternity and dental benefits are of course pricier than basic covers but you shouldn’t focus too much on the price criteria. Make sure you understand and define your needs first. You can find an excellent international health insurance in Singapore with fewer benefits but with a tailored cover and reasonable premium instead of paying for an all-inclusive insurance you don’t necessarily need.

Don’t hide your medical history

When buying health insurance in Singapore, you have to fill in a medical questionnaire and declare your medical history. If you have a pre-existing condition, many insurers will increase your premium by adding a loading. The amount of this loading depends on the type of pre-existing condition you have. Why so? Because insurance aims at protecting individuals from future, random risks. If a risk is known when underwriting a health insurance policy, then the premium will increase.
Don’t try to hide your pre-existing condition(s) in order to lower the price of your health insurance. If you do so, your contract will likely be immediately cancelled and you will end up without any health cover and won’t get your latest medical bills reimbursed (see your policy’s terms and conditions).

Don’t choose a very high annual deductible

Deductibles or annual excesses are very helpful when it comes to lower the total premium of your health insurance in Singapore. You then agree to pay your medical expenses up to a certain amount and the rest is reimbursed by your health insurance company, according to your policy’s benefits. However choosing a high level of excess in order to pay as less premium as possible is not a good idea because you will end up paying more medical expenses by yourself than getting reimbursed by your insurer. Your initial cost-saving strategy will become a financial burden. Once again, take time to define and understand your needs and your means.

Don’t fully rely on your local coverage

Many expatriates benefit from a local health insurance provided by their employer in Singapore. These insurances are quite similar from one employer to another and they all have the drawbacks of a “local” cover. It is wise to top-up your local cover with an international health insurance that meets your expectations, optimizes your coverage and protects you according to your needs. You will simply avoid bad surprises.

Buying health insurance online without talking to any adviser first

Many websites offer to buy online health insurance nowadays. And yet, insurance is a tricky subject and you may need some knowledge to really understand what benefits a policy provides you with before buying it. Advisers are here to help you understand your needs and get the best possible health insurance solution. Don’t hesitate to contact them and ask all of your questions.

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Date of publication Apr 12 2016