By Julia Chan
Healthcare in Singapore doesn't come cheap, especially when you have a chronic illness or a major operation.
How can we better plan for possible healthcare costs in future?
We've compiled the ultimate guide to reduce your healthcare costs in Singapore that may lighten your future financial burden.
1. Get a referral
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), if you are a Singaporean or Permanent Resident, you can enjoy subsidised Specialist Outpatient Clinic (SOC) treatment if you:
- Do not choose your specialist, and are
- referred by a polyclinic, or
- referred by a public hospital where you were a subsidised patient, or
- a CHAS cardholder referred by your CHAS doctor.
This makes you eligible for government subsidies which can cover at least 50% of your SOC bills.
For even more subsidies, bring along your CHAS card (apply here if you're eligible) and Pioneer Generation card (remind your elderly relatives ok?).
If you hate long waits at the polyclinic, just make a same day appointment via NHGP website or call 6355 3000, or contact SingHealth for an appointment date.
2. Know which cards give you discounts
Besides the CHAS and Pioneer Generation Card, here are some other cards you may want to sign up for.
a. NTUC member card – discounted rates at Raffles Medical, Healthway, Parkway Shenton, Unity Denticare and more
b. SAFRA member card – discounted rates at Ace Medical Services, Thomson Well Women Clinic etc
c. PAssion card – discounts at Q&M Dental Group, West Point Hospital, ECON Home Care etc
d. NTUC Income OrangeAid MediCard – pay $10 for up to $30 worth of treatment cost at GP clinics, which can be used together with CHAS card.
e. Civil Service Card (for civil servants and dependents) – government will foot a percentage of the medical bill with the civil servant co-paying the rest
3. Choose an appropriate health insurance for your needs
Although all Singaporeans and PRs are covered by Medishield Life, you may face some restrictions such as limits on your Medisave uses and claims.
If you are willing to fork out extra for an integrated shield plan with a private insurer and/or a rider to offset out-of-pocket costs, check out our Health Insurance checklist here and our Health Insurance 101 tips.
4. Visit your local pharmacy
For common mild conditions, you can actually visit your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for advice.
According to Unity's website, their pharmacists can assist with advice on medications for minor ailments, concerns on taking multiple drugs at the same time, diabetic care, chronic disease management, travel medication etc.
So if you are having a mild cold and the clinic queues are unbelievably long, consider going to a pharmacy. But if you are really unwell, see a doctor.
5. Free or heavily discounted medical services
MOH and HPB has a Screen for Life programme which subsidises health screenings for you.
Just before 1 September 2017, eligible Singaporeans will get a letter of invitation from HPB on this scheme to make an appointment with your preferred CHAS GP.
Singapore citizens only need to co-pay $5 for selected health screenings, and CHAS/Pioneer Generation/Public Assistance card holders pay $0 or $2.
A Google search on free clinics in Singapore also brought up the following services for the needy (you can also donate a sum if you visit):
6. Utilise company benefits to offset cost of dental visits, health screening etc
Not everyone is aware of company benefits which may wholly or partially cover dental visits and health screenings.
You can check your employee handbook or ask your Human Resources department on the medical benefits you're eligible for.
7. You can take your children to Polyclinics and General Practitioners (GPs), not just paediatricians
For common and/or mild ailments, you can consider taking your child to a polyclinic or a GP to see a doctor instead of paying hundreds of dollars to expensive paediatricians or rushing to a hospital's A&E department.
If you hate long waits at the polyclinic, you can contact the polyclinic to make an appointment in the comfort of your home, then bring your sick child to the polyclinic closer to the appointment time.
Medicines disbursed by polyclinic pharmacies may also be subsidised, which reduces your out-of-pocket expenses.
8. Free vaccinations at polyclinics for infants
The National Childhood Immunisation Programme (NCIP) offers immunisation against the following diseases which are fully-subsidised (except pneumococcal which you can use your Medisave to pay).
9. Stay healthy and fit
Prevention is better than cure, hence having an active lifestyle is important to add years and quality health to our lives.
Coming from a person who has had to constantly lose weight after weight gain from stress and pregnancies, the hardest part is not the exercise, but putting on my shoes and getting myself out the door.
Here are some ways you can save money in your quest to keep fit:
- Utilise your free $100 ActiveSG credits to enter swimming pools, gyms, sports classes and book facilities (valid until 31 Dec 2017)
- Download activpass app to get up to 90% discounts off spas, salons, gyms and fitness studios
- Download bike-sharing apps to get free rides. Enjoy a weekend of free cycling or free 15 minutes on weekdays (e.g. with the oBike app) so you can cycle from your home to/fro MRT stations
- Exercise during lunchtime and bring your own fruits for snacks
- Check out free fitness trials (and practise saying "no" to hard-sell packages before you go down)
- Free sports workouts by HPB's Sundays@The Park
Mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health. These are some tips I found useful to stay sane:
This article first appeared on The New Savvy.