Continuation plans: Keeping your employee health insurance after you leave

As an expat working in Singapore, it’s very likely that you’ll have a private medical insurance plan provided to you by your employer. But, what happens when you leave your job? Of course, handing in your notice often means that you will be leaving a number of things behind, but your corporate health insurance benefits doesn’t have to be one of them! To keep your employer-provided health insurance, you might want to think about transferring your coverage from a group policy to an individual one by obtaining a continuation plan.

Understandably, insurance jargon can be tricky to wrap your head around, and there will also be a number of things you will need to consider if you do choose to buy a continuation plan. To help, we’ve asked our friends over at Pacific Prime Singapore, a global insurance broker, to go over what you need to know about continuation plans.

What’s a continuation plan?

When you leave your job, keeping your employer-provided health insurance coverage is something you may want to consider. A continuation plan allows you to transfer coverage from your previous corporate medical insurance to a comparable individual plan when you are no longer protected under your company paid health insurance.

The thing to note here is that continuation of coverage is not available to everyone. Not all corporate medical insurance plans can be continued on to an individual one, but in most cases you can expect that major insurers such as Bupa, AXA, and Cigna are most likely to accept transferring your coverage.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some company-provided plans would have already included an option for departing employees to continue their coverage even after they have left their job, so be sure to check with your company’s HR department, the insurer, or a trusted broker like Pacific Prime Singapore to see if this is something that applies to you.

Things to watch out for when obtaining a continuation plan

If your insurer has agreed to transfer your coverage with a continuation plan, be sure to familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions as well as the policy wording of your continuation plan.

Be aware of any limitations and caveats

Some insurers may only allow you to transfer your coverage if you’ve had your employee health insurance plan for over a certain time period (usually one year). What’s more, oftentimes the continuation option must be taken up within 30 days of leaving your employer-provided health insurance, so it’s important to take action as soon as possible. At this point it’s also a good idea to consider if you would like a plan upgrade, e.g. to include additional benefits like dental insurance.

Adjusted premiums

Companies can often negotiate lower, more attractive premiums than those available to individuals purchasing their own insurance, because corporate plans are insuring a group of people. As such, you will likely face higher premiums on your individual continuation plan, but it may still represent good value, particularly for those of you who want to continue coverage of your pre-existing medical conditions, provided that these were covered under your group plan. That said, sometimes the premiums charged for continuation plans may be too high. In these cases, buying another plan might actually work out as the best option for your budgetary needs.

Pre-existing conditions

As explained above, if your pre-existing conditions (conditions you’ve had before you joined the insurance plan, e.g. diabetes) were covered in your corporate plan, it’s very important that you know how pre-existing illnesses will be handled by your insurer when purchasing a continuation plan, as these conditions do present an added risk to your insurance provider. An insurer may just add an extra fee – a loading – on top of your premium to cover your pre-existing conditions; this added fee can differ significantly depending on the insurer and your condition. If it’s something more serious, you may even be denied a transfer outright.

The best option for your needs

With all the above to consider, the best option for your needs will depend on a number of factors, and sometimes buying a new medical insurance plan from a different insurer can be better than opting for a continuation plan. Of course, making a decision on transferring your coverage or finding a new plan can be difficult and time consuming, which is why it can help to talk to a broker like Pacific Prime Singapore, who will do all the hard work for you and present you with the best plan options for your needs, at a price you’re comfortable with.