If health insurance is on your list of things to look into, failing to place it at the top of that list could cost you your retirement savings.  A sports injury while playing tennis could run up thousands of dollars a year in physical therapy payments. Even with insurance, your deductible – what you are required to pay before insurance coverage kicks in – could run into hundreds of dollars a month. Even with basic insurance, if you ever undergo cancer treatment, you could face a monthly deductible of $3000 for chemotherapy if you do not purchase extra coverage.

If you do maintain good health for many years to come, the premiums for health insurance quickly rise with age. If you are approaching 50 and seeking coverage, you could be charged three to five times higher premiums than if you had purchased insurance in your thirties.  While it may sound like scaremongering, the reality is health insurance is among the most important purchase you will make in your lifetime.

With the help of the Internet, you can easily compare plans and Singapore health insurance coverage options, speak to online representatives and sign up for health coverage. The following brief guide alerts you to what to look for while shopping around.

Related: What Kind Of Insurance Do You Need?

What Is Health Insurance?

Heath insurance provides coverage for expenses arising from sickness or injury. Insurance may cover losses and expenses related to medical care, accidents, disability, and accidental death and dismemberment. The insurer estimates the risk of these events arising in a population and the associated costs. A monthly insurance premium is then charged to individuals or their sponsors (a company, for example) who seek to be insured in the case of these eventualities. Types of health insurance include major medical, supplemental medical, disability income, long term care, hospital, and critical illness. Supplemental insurance is intended to cover expenses not taken care of by the main insurance policy, and may include emergency services, surgical implants, private nursing or dental coverage.

What To Look Out For When Buying Health Insurance?

Insurance policies generally have exclusions for expenses they do not cover. When buying health insurance coverage, never ever assume anything. If you are pregnant, your health insurance likely covers basic charges. Some insurers, however, may not cover pregnancy complications or a caesarean section. These and many other services are offered through extra insurance coverage.

A common costly mistake is to buy basic coverage – whew! What a relief to be finally covered – and put off extra coverage for a rainy day. Premiums for extra coverage also rise quickly with age {see the Prudential premiums chart for extras below}.

Also consider insurance coverage for when you are ill and cannot continue to pay important bills, including your insurance premiums. When a family member has an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease in old age, it is nice to know that monthly payments will be covered even if they are forgetful.

Different Types of Singapore Health Insurance Plans

A Comparison of 3 Plans

NTUC Income

Enhanced Isncome Shield

Prudential

PRUshield

Aviva

My Shield

Private Hospital Services

Not covered

Cancer treatment/extra

Critical illness

Major organ transplant

 

Cancer treatment/extra

Critical illness

Live donor organ transplant

 

Extra cancer coverage

 

Annual Premium

Age: 31-40

??$482$278.17

{MediShield $310}

Annual Coverage Limit$700,000$632,700$650,000

 

In addition to regional insurers, large global players are active in the Singapore market, including AIG, Liberty and Prudential. These three insurers were chosen for their diversity of coverage and type of insurance. They represent three types of insurers.

Regional – Aviva is a global insurer located in Sri Lanka, and one of the largest insurers worldwide. In 2012, British insurer AIA Group bought Aviva to strengthen its foothold in the fast growing Asian markets.

Global – Prudential is one of the world’s largest and oldest insurance companies. It was founded in Britain in 1848 and has been operating in Singapore since 1931. Prudential Corporation Asia is its largest division.

Health Cooperative – NTUC Income Insurance Co-operative Limited is the only insurance cooperative in Singapore. A health insurance cooperative is owned by the insured individuals, similar to a cooperative banking structure. In the United States, co-ops are being promoted as the answer to affordable healthcare, although under the current system only a few have remained in business.

Comparing Health Insurance Coverage

AVIVA provides coverage for both cancer and critical illness under its primary health insurance policy. The critical illness category includes major heartache, cancer, stroke, end stage liver disease, and end stage lung disease. Not all policies cover inpatient psychiatric treatment. Note that all these insurers provide a wide range of policies, making it hard to compare them on an apples-to-apples basis. The above analysis provides some guidance on what may or may not be covered by basic and extra insurance.  Doctors.com provides a detailed comparison of the top eight Singapore health insurance plans for private hospital care.

How Does Buying Health Insurance Work?

The insurance provider will enter into a contract with you, the insured individual, called an insurance policy. The premium is the monthly payment you will make in exchange for the insurance coverage. Many policyholders have sponsors who cover all or part of their medical costs. The sponsor is often the company you, the insured, works for. These sponsors, in turn, take out insurance coverage on all of their employees.

Most medical expenses have a deductible – the amount the insured must pay out of pocket. A doctor’s visit, for example, may involve a $100 deductible charged directly to the patient. The insurance policy of your company sponsor will cover the rest.

Deductibles are the same across Health Insurance In Singapore Explained. You may also be able to buy extra insurance to cover the deductibles. PRUshield extra, for example, reimburses for deductibles and co-insurance. As you can see in this premiums chart, if you are 31-40 years of age, the fees will range from $23 to $38 per month. Is the coverage worth it? The NTUC Income Shield Plan deductible for chemotherapy is $3,500 per month. Buying insurance on deductibles at a young age can be a very cost-effective strategy.

Shop for Deals When Buying Health Insurance

Health insurance is a competitive business. Enticing offers in the market today include:

– Critical illness coverage premiums that are refunded in total if you have no critical illness claims

– High interest offered on premiums paid. The return on your money will be higher investing in premiums than in a low interest rate savings account.

A number of online websites are popping up to help you compare Singapore health insurance. Some of the comparison engines are run by insurance agents and collect your personal information without providing any further information, or clearly favour one insurer and do not provide a comprehensive comparison of other health insurers. It is always a good idea to speak with more than one insurance broker directly to have all your question answered. Never make your buying decision during the meeting! Reflect, review, gather more information and then decide which insurer can best meet your health insurance needs.

Find out the 4 Things to Consider Before Buying Insurance

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).