Differences between European and Singaporean healthcare

Differences between European and Singaporean healthcare

Singapore has an excellent healthcare system and according to the World Health Organization, Singapore’s healthcare system ranks 6th in the world and is the best healthcare system in the Asia-Pacific region. Expatriates from around Europe will likely be impressed by the options available to them and the accessibility of care in Singapore; however, there are a few differences between European healthcare and Singaporean healthcare that should be known to ensure that you are covered in the case of an emergency.


The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a compulsory savings plan in Singapore. It’s funded by contributions from both employers and employees and is designed to cover expenses pertaining to retirement, housing and healthcare. 20% of these contributions go into ‘Medisave’ which is part of a government implemented framework designed to cover hospital expenses. Other funds within this framework include Medishield, Medifund and Medication Assistance Fund, all of which provide different levels of coverage to help Singaporean citizens afford necessary care.

In Europe there is no collective framework like this that applies to all European countries, but some do have similar national health services to help citizens cover medical expenses. In the UK, for example, the National Health Service is funded by general taxation as well as contributions, with patients being charged only small amounts for certain services. France also has a health care system funded by social security contributions and around 70% to 80% of medical fees will be reimbursed under certain conditions.

International Health Insurance

One of the more notable differences between Europe and Singapore in terms of healthcare is that most Europeans are eligible to receive treatment in other countries around Europe without paying for travel insurance. Those that qualify for European health insurance receive a card that they can take with them on their travels and this card gives them basic health insurance coverage in case of emergencies. In the UK, this card would be called an EHIC – previously known as an E111 – and UK citizens can apply for on through the NHS. These cards can expire, however, and people have to regularly fill out a European health insurance card renewal form. In Singapore, international health insurance must be purchased from private insurance providers. Expatriates in Singapore are also exempt from CPF contributions and they only subsidies they are qualified for are emergency services. This is why it’s important that expats read into their options for health insurance as early as possible.

Private healthcare and hospitals

While public healthcare in Singapore is excellent, many expats prefer to pay for private healthcare. Because public healthcare is held to such a high standard, private healthcare is of exceptional quality and because private hospitals generally compete with public hospitals, the cost of care is not nearly as high as it might be elsewhere. The main difference between private and public healthcare because waiting periods for treatments tend to be shorter and there are additional services tend to be slightly better.

This differs from a lot of European countries, where private healthcare and treatment is considered to be something of a luxury and while the service is of high quality, the costs make the services and treatments highly exclusive and people would typically use private healthcare services for specialist treatment.

27 Jun 2017
Poppy Gallagher