Health Insurance in Singapore

Understand which medical costs are covered by insurers and patients, how to pay for medical care and how the Central Provident Fund, Medisave, Medifund and Medishield work…

Public Healthcare Schemes

Singaporeans and permanent residents of Singapore are automatically subscribed by their employers to several funding schemes established by the government and operated by the CPF. These funding schemes are Medisave, Medifund and Medishield, the principal components of Singapore’s “3M” health system. Those who become permanent residents will be enrolled in the CPF by their sponsor during the residency application process.

Medisave

Medisave is a medical savings scheme compulsory for almost all Singaporeans and permanent residents. Employed Singaporeans and permanent residents automatically contribute between seven and nine point five percent of their salary, depending on their age, to an individual Medisave account. These savings can then be withdrawn for hospital treatment for either the account holder or their family members.

  • For full details of Medisave from the MoH

Medishield

Medishield is an illness insurance scheme designed to help meet the cost of long-term or major illnesses that a patient’s Medisave balance may not be able to cover. It was established to prevent the exhaustion of Medisave accounts by expensive forms of treatment. Medishield premiums can be paid from a Medisave account. It is possible to opt out of Medishield, but many policyholders choose to improve their Medishield cover with an Integrated Shield plan instead. Integrated Shield plans allow a private insurer to provide an additional level of cover which supplements Medishield, and their providers are approved by the MoH.

  • For full details of Medishield from the MoH
  • For details of Integrated Shield schemes and a listing of MoH-approved providers

Medifund

Medifund is a social security scheme set up to provide help to Singaporeans and permanent residents unable to meet the cost of their medical expenses by other means. It is funded directly by the government. Medifund Silver is a project set up on the same principles to help citizens over the age of 65.

Later-life support

Other public medical financing schemes are available. Permanent residents and Singaporeans experiencing health problems in old age can receive funds from ElderShield schemes, which are automatically subscribed to and are administered by private insurers. For those in need of later-life medical help who were unable to take out an ElderShield plan, the Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly (IDAPE) provides a smaller income-assessed medical allowance.

Private Schemes

It is common practice for private healthcare insurance to be included in employment contracts with large companies, but smaller and medium-sized employers may not provide any extra level of healthcare insurance above the CPF schemes. Non-residents are not covered by the CPF schemes, so for non-residents working in Singapore without employer-provided healthcare insurance, arranging private medical cover is essential to avoiding large hospital bills. As the CPF schemes do not always cover the full cost of care, many Singaporeans and permanent residents take out private healthcare insurance policies to supplement the CPF-provided cover. Many employer-provided and private schemes incorporate family cover.

Further Information

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Picture courtesy of Sandeep Aegis