Private vs Public Healthcare Insurance in Singapore
N.B. This post on Private vs Public Healthcare Insurance in Singapore is based on my personal opinion. In any case, please do your own research or seek professional advice.
MediShield Life is our nation’s all-inclusive healthcare policy. For the most part, it covers our basic healthcare needs with imposed limitations. With this in mind, I prefer to enhance my coverage with a private integrated shield plan.
Integrated shield plan attempts to bridge the gap between MediShield Life and what consumers want for their healthcare insurance coverage. In detail, there are two parts to the coverage, often referred to as “the basic plan”, and “the rider add-on”. On top of that, the plans can be divided into two categories,
Private vs Public Healthcare Insurance Coverage
Each plan has its own advantages and disadvantages. By and large, there are 5 points that everyone should be aware of before making a decision.
1. Beds Occupancy Rate
According to statistics from Ministry of Health Singapore,
the average beds occupancy rate across 8 public hospitals in Singapore is 84%.
That is to say, 21 out of 25 beds at the hospital are occupied in a single week. Henceforth, I may be forced to admit into a ward that I do not prefer to stay in. In like manner, the hospital may reject my admission.
Evidently, a publication from Tan Tock Seng Hospital wrote that
bed shortages at public hospitals are not new.
With this in mind, I cannot imagine how life is like if I have to sleep at the roof garden of the hospital! ☀️
2. Treatment Cost (Inpatient and Outpatient)
There is a noticeable difference between the cost of medical treatment at a public hospital than at a private hospital. Let’s take a conventional heart bypass surgery as an example. 75% of the patients were charged below
a subsidised rate of $9,016
at a public hospital at ward B2; or
an unsubsidised rate of $42,876
at a public hospital at ward A; or
a total bill of $88,942
at a private hospital.
Through this comparison, we know that medical treatment in private hospitals is certainly expensive. Even for public hospitals, there is still a huge difference between the subsidised rate (if eligibility conditions are met), and an unsubsidised rate.
3. Annual Policy Claim Limit
Most of the integrated shield plans are designed similarly in terms of their annual policy claim limit. In essence, the higher tiered plan (i.e. coverage for private hospitals and below) has a higher annual policy claim limit than the plan that provides coverage for public hospitals and below.
One reason is because of the expected higher cost of treatment at private hospitals. At the same time, it is important to ponder upon whether the cost of treatment in public hospitals will be as costly.
4. Pro Ration Factor
At this point, you may be wondering – does that mean that I can only go to public hospitals for medical treatment if I opt for the integrated shield plan that covers public hospitals and below?
The simple answer is
no, you can still go to private hospitals for medical treatment.
However, a pro-ration factor will be applied to the medical bill, e.g. only 70% of the bill will be covered by the healthcare insurance policy. Thereafter, the this section of the bill is subject to the annual deductible, co-insurance, and co-payment – i.e. more cost to be borne by me than by my healthcare insurance. 💸
5. Annual Premium
In most cases, the policy that covers both private and public hospitals will be costlier than the policy that covers the latter only. This is partly because of the expected larger medical bill size. Seeing that, we pay part of these costs in the form of insurance premium.
Conclusion on Private vs Public Healthcare Insurance
All in all, there are many factors for consideration when choosing the type of healthcare insurance that suits our needs. Other notable factors include patient waiting time, choice of doctors, as well as accessibility. Personally, I have a rule when it comes to making decisions like this:
Choose the best coverage that I can afford. Ultimately, it is always easier to downgrade to to upgrade.
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