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Top-up insurance: What it is and how it helps Singapore expats

Many expats in Singapore likely consider themselves fortunate. After all, they’re in demand enough that they were either moved to Singapore to better help assist their employer here, or they came here and then were able to find gainful employment. Even more fortunate for most expats is that employers are likely to have supplied them with additional benefits beyond just their salary. While not everyone will have a company car, or access to the company credit card for booking business trips around the globe, they will no doubt be included in the company group health insurance plan. However, some Singapore expatriates may find that their employer-provided health insurance falls short in some areas. Here, Pacific Prime Singapore discusses how working expatriates in Singapore can use top-up health insurance plans when their group health insurance just isn’t up to snuff.

Working expat healthcare and insurance in Singapore

Long time Singapore expats will likely already be familiar with how the local healthcare system operates, but it is still good to go over it for newer arrivals.

Singapore has an excellent public healthcare system that has been pointed to as an example of how to do public healthcare right by other countries around the world. A major component of the Singapore system is Medisave accounts that workers put funds into from their monthly income. These funds are then used when a person needs medical care. This care is used predominantly in the city’s public hospitals, which provide subsidised care to Singaporean nationals and expatriates with Permanent Resident (PR) status. Medisave can also be used in private hospitals, but given the higher costs of treatment in these locations, and the limits on Medisave funds that can be used, people choosing to do so may end up with a considerable hospital bill that they will be responsible for settling.

Of course, if you are a newer expat in Singapore, none of the above is likely to apply to you. Expatriates in the Lion City without PR status are not able to access the public healthcare system at any level. They do not have Medisave accounts, and are, therefore, restricted purely to private hospitals for their medical needs. This is why it is so important for many expats to have health insurance in place to address medical costs, why employers take extra care to provide expat workers with health insurance, and why making sure that your insurance has the right level of benefits is imperative.

Common gaps in coverage

No matter how much a company in Singapore wants to provide for their employees, there are always limits on how far they will go, and how much they will spend, to provide top of the line health insurance. Businesses always have to worry about their bottom lines, and group health insurance can be quite expensive. For this reason, the plans that companies end up purchasing will likely address most medical costs people will incur, but are unlikely to address all potential medical costs. Not to mention the fact that some companies will only budget enough money for their group health insurance to provide the bare minimum level of coverage. With this in mind, we have prepared a list of some of the most common areas where group health insurance policies come up short:

Out-patient benefits – While the majority of group health insurance plans will provide coverage for out-patient care (that being same-day medical treatment that doesn’t require being admitted to the hospital), some group insurance plans may only provide benefits for the most serious in-patient treatments.

Low benefit levels – No matter what types of coverage your group insurance plan is said to have, they may simply have maximum benefit levels that are too low to make the policy effective. For instance, if you have in-patient coverage, but the annual maximum for it is only SGD 5,000, a particularly serious or complicated injury or illness may leave you on the hook for many thousands of dollars more than you then will need to pay out of pocket.

Maternity coverage – If you plan on having kids in the future, you will want to make sure this coverage is on your policy to address the costs of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and any potential complications. As maternity benefits can be quite pricey, this type of coverage is commonly left out of group policies.

Dental coverage – Cover the costs of maintaining your family’s oral health with dental benefits.

Vision coverage – Likewise, cover trips to the eye doctor and associated costs.

Restrictive provider networks – Some policies may have plenty of seemingly great benefits, but will then limit the hospitals, clinics, and doctors that you can use them at. People wanting the freedom to choose their own healthcare providers may wish to find a policy without such restrictions.

Mobility – You can have all the best benefits in Singapore, but what happens when you travel outside of the country? You can obtain travel insurance, but it will only provide emergency medical care, and you may not have access to out-patient treatment while abroad. Fortunately, there are international health insurance benefits available to can provide coverage is just about any doctor’s office or hospital in any country around the world!

Portability – It’s great that your current employer is providing you with health insurance, but what happens if you were to lose your job for any reason? Would your coverage continue? There are plans available that will allow you to keep your insurance coverage even in such a circumstance, but if your current plan isn’t one of them, you will need to make your own arrangements to make sure that you and your family are never without health insurance protection.

Top-up health insurance

When you look into the details of your current company-provided health insurance plan and find that the benefits are not quite what you were expecting, you can use a top-up insurance plan to pick up the slack. A top-up plan can complement an existing plan, and allow you to pick and choose the areas where you feel you need additional coverage. For example, if you think that your annual maximum benefit levels are too low, you can obtain a plan that adds additional coverage that can pick up right where your existing plan leaves off.

As alluded to with the items in the list above, you can also add benefits that were completely left out of your existing insurance plan. Want to make sure your kids will be covered for any potential dental work? You can easily add dental coverage to a top-up plan. What if you travel abroad frequently for work and/or pleasure, and want to make sure you always have access to the best possible healthcare? Adding international health insurance benefits is no problem.

To be clear, a top-up insurance plan is a separate plan that will be purchased privately, and not be connected to your employer’s group policy. However, a top-up plan can completely take your employer-provided insurance into account as it is tailored to your needs.

Finding the right plan

So if you find yourself in a situation where you think that your group health insurance plan just may not meet the potential medical needs of your or your family, where can you turn to find a suitable top-up insurance solution? When shopping for insurance of just about any kind, the best way to make sure that you find the best plan for your particular needs and budget is to use a licensed insurance broker like Pacific Prime Singapore.

The knowledgeable insurance advisers at Pacific Prime can present top-up insurance options from a number of different insurers all at one time, saving you the time and effort of getting quotes from multiple insurance companies. Their staff will present you with a plan comparison and free price quotation, as well as answer any questions you may have. Contact them today!

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