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Report finds Singapore fifth most expensive place for individual medical international insurance

In late March, Pacific Prime officially released the first part of a three article report on the cost of individual international health insurance in 94 countries. Article 1 - The cost of health insurance for expats in 94 countries - focuses on the average cost in each country, presenting a ranking of the 20 most costly and 5 least costly countries for individual international health insurance plans. It also covers the average premiums for Singles, Couples, Families, and Retirees, presenting a ranking for each demographic based on the average of three different levels of plans offered by the six largest international health insurance providers.

Posted on Apr 09, 2015 by rob.mcbroom

The average price of individual medical insurance in Singapore

Available to download for free from March 30th via our website, Article 1 presents some intriguing findings, including figures for Singapore. Numerous reports in the past year have found Singapore to be not only a highly liveable city, but also increasingly expensive. This is also extended to the cost of health care at private hospitals and, therefore, health insurance as well.

In fact, Singapore was found to be among the most expensive locations - on average - in the report. Coming in 5th overall, with an average plan cost of USD 9,784, only China, Israel, Hong Kong and the US are more expensive. When broken down into each demographic the average premiums in Singapore are: USD 4,499 for Singles, USD 9,445 for Couples, USD 14,102 for Families, and USD 10,762 for Retirees.

When ranked, Singapore falls 4th most expensive for Single plans, 5th most expensive for Couples plans, 5th most expensive for Family plans, and 5th most expensive for Retirees. While Singapore is among the top 5 most expensive locations in the report, the numbers are somewhat lower when compared to premiums in the US. For example, the average premium in Singapore is 44.70% of the average in the US. This points to a large difference in the average premiums in the top countries.

What influences the premiums in Singapore?

At first glance, it may seem a little odd to see health insurance premiums in Singapore ranking so high. Pacific Prime has identified a number of reasons as to why premiums in Article 1 are so high. Below are four that are most relevant to Singapore:

1. The cost of health care can be expensive for expats
Singapore is well known to have one of the best, and, indeed, most interesting health care systems in the world. Citizens and Permanent Residents have access to the Medisave system which functions as a nationalized health insurance plan enabling substantial health care savings at both the public and private hospitals and clinics.

Non-citizens and Permanent Residents - essentially almost all foreigners in Singapore - don’t have access to the Medisave system which means they are charged full price for any health related care.

The issue with this is that the unsubsidised costs can vary widely. For example, an excision of a mole can cost between SGD 275 and SGD 488 just for the surgery with costs on top for dr’s fees, etc. Private hospitals often cost even more, with the average price at Mount Elizabeth Hospital for the treatment advertised as being between SGD 5,000 and SGD 10,000.

Because of this variation in cost, health insurance is a necessity. In order to minimize risk - on the provider’s side - international health insurance premiums will generally be on the slightly higher side.

2. It’s due to the quality of health care
Putting the cost of healthcare aside, facilities in Singapore offer - for the most part - high quality care. As with almost anything of high quality, you are simply going to pay more for it, which translates to higher bills and therefore higher insurance premiums.

3. It’s in the way the premiums are calculated in the report
The average figures listed above cover a number of insurers and levels of plans included in the report. For example, the Single demographic takes into account 6 insurers offering three plans with different levels of coverage (inpatient coverage; inpatient + outpatient coverage; inpatient + outpatient + maternity coverage). These plans all have different premiums, which increase with the level of coverage, sometimes exponentially. This can lead to average premiums that appear to be quite high.

Combine this with the fact that some providers have higher premiums - this is covered in-depth in Article 2 of the report - which can skew the averages to appear more expensive. Beyond that, all plans were prices with zero deductible and zero excess which can inflate premiums.

4. It’s the type of health insurance
Article 1, as well as the rest of the report, focuses on international health insurance plans, which are usually developed for HNW expats and HNW locals in each country. As such, the coverage is usually extensive, and in many cases world-wide, which will lead to higher premiums when combined with locally developed and targeted plans.

The key here is that the figures in Article 1 present a general idea of what you can expect to pay for international health insurance in each country. Regardless of the way premiums are calculated, you will find that most countries move very little in their overall ranking - Singapore is highly likely to remain in the top 5 most expensive countries in future iterations of the report.

To see how the other countries stack up against Singapore, and to gain a more in depth understanding of the average prices, download Article 1 for free today from our website.

Look for more information in our upcoming articles

Article 2, which will be out in May, offers an deeper look at the cost of health insurance in 6 popular expat destinations including Singapore. Article 3 on the other hand, compares costs at a regional level. 

Want to learn more about medical insurance plans available from Pacific Prime? You can contact one of Pacific Prime’s knowledgeable agents today if you have any questions.

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