FBC board member Niina Tippin blogs about the importance of health insurance in Singapore 

Do you have the right healthcare coverage? 

In Spring 2016 my husband was offered an interesting work opportunity and he was asked by his employer if he would consider a move to Singapore. This meant that we had a couple days to decide whether to leave Luxembourg, our home for 18 years, to start a new life in South East Asia. We did what anyone would do; we frantically started googling everything; the best international schools, the housing market, cost of living, the weather, food, general lifestyle and culture. This led us to the decision that this was an opportunity we could not pass up.  

At one point, I remember asking my Husband, “Do we need healthcare whilst living in Singapore?”. We checked with his employer and we were told that they offer a good health care plan and that we were covered for everything. This made me feel at ease with the big move and life change we were about to embark on. Before we knew it, we had jumped on the plane to start our life in Singapore.  

I joined the leading insurance brokerage Expat Insurance in 2018 as their Private Client Manager, responsible for managing relationships with international health insurers and managing a team of sales and renewal advisors. It surprised me how many professionals come to this country without having a proper health insurance coverage, leaving them very vulnerable. I’ve heard a few horror stories with some hefty price tags which I will not share here but it is worth bearing in mind.  

My advice for anyone considering a move to Singapore, or in the process of moving over, to carefully check and ensure you are sufficiently protected whilst living here. So many expats from Finland and other European countries are used to receiving free healthcare so it is easy to forget to add it in your to do-list before you head over. Singapore is well known for having one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world and the prices increase year on year. 

You will probably find that most multinationals and larger companies will offer some employee healthcare packages, but make sure that you check for the following:

  • Is your whole family covered or just you?  
  • Inpatient benefits: do you have enough cover in case of hospitalization and are there any restrictions in terms of which hospitals you can access?  
  • Outpatient benefits: are you expected to contribute towards your GP and specialist visits? How much is covered per year and is there freedom of choice of the provider?  
  • Dental care: what procedures, if any, are included in the plan?  
  • Maternity: Are you or your spouse covered for costs arising from maternity? Is there a wait period for pregnancy insurance? 

If you don’t think that you have enough cover, you should consider a top up plan to complement your employee group health plan.  

If your employer does not offer a health care plan, you came to Singapore to find work or relocated to set up a startup, you will need to take an individual health insurance plan – the above check- list applies to you too. There are a number of insurance providers out there and it can be quite daunting figuring out which is suited to you and your family’s needs. The best thing to do is to speak to an independent insurance advisor who can support and educate you on the best options within budget so that you can make an informed decision. 

And what about my own family insurance coverage that we had not paid much attention? We got lucky; we are well covered. My advice to anyone in Singapore is to make sure that you are too! 

Niina Tippin is a new member of FBC board and has been living in Singapore since 2016. She works as the Private Client Manager at Expat Insurance, a leading insurance brokerage and advisory service for global professionals. As well as Health Insurance, Expat Insurance can help advise you on Life & Critical Illness, Home & Contents, Travel, employee benefits and business insurances.