Getting Healthcare and Health Insurance in SG An Expats Guide

Getting Healthcare and Health Insurance in SG An Expats Guide

Healthcare continues to be a necessity no matter where you find yourself. Singapore has one of the best health systems in the world, and as an expat living in this country, you enjoy the benefit of being in proximity to excellent healthcare facilities and professionals both on the public and private level.

Aside from closing the distance, however, you must also consider the cost of accessing health services. While the country has universal healthcare, this comes in the form of subsidies that are only available to citizens and permanent residents.

Considering how substantial the cost of healthcare can be, having the right insurance will also ensure that you receive the necessary care without facing financial strain. Moreover, familiarising yourself with Singapore’s healthcare system in advance will allow you to make informed decisions during medical emergencies and ensure swift and efficient care for yourself and your loved ones.

This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview of healthcare and health insurance in SG so that you can navigate both types of concerns with confidence and sufficiently meet your health needs during your time in the Lion City.

The Healthcare System in Singapore

Singapore’s world-class healthcare system is divided into its public and private sectors, both offering high-quality services. Let’s examine the differences between the two.

Public Healthcare

Choosing to go to a public Singapore hospital or polyclinic gives you access to quality healthcare at affordable costs. It’s worth noting that public healthcare facilities in the country primarily serve Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. Expats can also access them, albeit at higher rates.

SG’s public hospitals, in particular, are renowned for their advanced medical technology and highly skilled professionals. You can expect them to provide comprehensive care, from emergency services to specialised treatments. However, expats should be aware that they will not benefit from the subsidies available to locals.

Meanwhile, polyclinics refer to government-run clinics that offer a range of primary healthcare services, including general consultations, vaccinations, and health screenings. They are cost-effective and accessible, though the waiting times can be longer compared to private clinics.

Private Healthcare

Private healthcare facilities in Singapore are favoured by most expats for their shorter waiting times, personalised care, and additional comforts. An expatriate patient may also expect a private hospital or clinic to offer expedited services and generous amenities.


These facilities are ideal for those who prefer faster treatment as well as a more comfortable environment for their diagnoses and recovery. The costs of private healthcare can be significantly higher than public healthcare services, however, making comprehensive insurance coverage essential for expats who choose this option.

Health Insurance Options

When it comes to health insurance, expats in Singapore have several options. Here are some of the most common ones, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks:

Employer-Provided Insurance

Many employers offer health insurance as part of their benefits package. This can be both the most convenient and cost-effective option. Employer-provided insurance often covers basic healthcare needs, including hospitalisation and outpatient services, saving the insured the hassle of searching for an individual plan.

The coverage itself may be limited, however, and it may not extend to family members. In addition, the benefits can vary significantly between employers, so the onus falls on the insured to know what exactly is covered by their program.

Private Health Insurance

If your employer does not provide insurance, or if you require more comprehensive coverage, private health insurance is a viable option. Private health insurance plans can be customised to suit your specific needs, and most programs in SG offer extensive coverage for various medical services, including specialist consultations and elective treatments.

All the same, these plans can be quite expensive, especially if you opt for high coverage limits and additional benefits. It's important to carefully compare different plans to find one that offers good value for money.

International Health Insurance

For expats who frequently travel or plan to move to another country, international health insurance offers global coverage and ensure that expat customers are protected no matter where they are.

International health insurance coverage will provide the insured with full peace of mind, which is of great value for those who travel often or have homes in multiple countries. But in comparison to employer-provided and private health insurance, international plans tend to be the most expensive. In addition, some policies might have complex terms and conditions. You’ll need to do thorough research to understand what your coverage is like.

Considerations When Choosing Health Insurance

It’s a must to consider your actual needs so that you can choose a matching insurance policy and avail of healthcare in your chosen type of facility. Here are some of the things you need to think about when selecting a health insurance product:


Evaluate what the plan covers, including hospitalisation, outpatient care, emergency services, and specialist consultations. Ensure it addresses your specific health needs and any pre-existing conditions you might have.

Network of Providers

Some insurance plans have a network of preferred healthcare providers. Verify if your preferred hospitals and clinics are included in this network to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.


Compare the premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket maximums per program. Your understanding of these costs helps you balance between affordable premiums and comprehensive coverage.

Claims Process

Choose an insurance provider with a straightforward and efficient claims process. Reading reviews or seeking recommendations from other expats can provide you with insight into the ease of making claims.

Additional Benefits

Also consider whether the plan includes extra benefits like dental, vision, maternity, and wellness programs. These can add value to the insurance plan, but may also increase the premium.

The SG health system’s focus on proactive health management and full utilisation of public funds on healthcare services make it an even better place to live in for your professional growth, and it may be one of the best arguments for considering permanent residency or citizenship down the line. But while you’re new to Singapore, use the knowledge supplied above to ensure that you and your family are well-protected during the very first months of your stay.

27 May 2024
Singapore Expats