How well do these worries match up to the facts, though?
Here are 6 common myths about private hospital bills that we might have bought into – and how to ease our anxieties about them.
Myth 1: Private hospitals are not transparent about their charges
Uncertainty over a hospital bill size has always sparked anxiety in patients, yet patients in Singapore can rest easy. Singapore hospitals, both public and private, post their charges (including room fees) on their respective websites.
You can get an estimated bill size for common medical procedures listed on the website of your private hospital. There, you can find the middle (50th percentile) and high (75th percentile) costs of common medical procedures. This includes the total charges of the different procedures, and a simple breakdown of the hospitalisation and doctors’ charges as well.
If you have an Integrated Shield Plan that covers most of your medical bills, but you're still wondering how much you have to fork out from your pocket, you can get an estimate of your out-of-pocket expenses for common surgical procedures at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, Gleneagles Hospital, and Parkway East Hospital.
If you decide to seek treatment at a private hospital, financial counselling will be provided before admission so that you can estimate the size of your medical bill. If you have any doubts about the associated costs, you can always clarify!
Myth 2: Even with an Integrated Shield Plan, I’ll have to share part of the large hospital bill
An Integrated Shield Plan for private healthcare already covers the bulk of your hospital bill, but patients would be expected to pay the deductible (the first $3,500 of the bill) and co-insurance (10% of the remaining hospital bill).
With a rider, however, you will only need to pay a minimal sum in cash, or even nothing at all (for some existing insurance policies with full riders).
If you have an Integrated Shield Plan and a rider that covers your deductible and co-insurance, you would only need to pay a minimal sum for your medical treatment.
Remember, Integrated Shield Plans account for your pre- and post- hospitalisation consultations, on top of your hospitalisation bill. In the long run, it could well save you a large sum of money.
Myth 3: My private health insurance is not sufficient
You may be surprised to know that close to 3 million Singaporeans have Integrated Shield Plans1. A common reason Singaporeans choose this is because with this additional health insurance, your annual claim limit can range from $1 million – 2 million per year (depending on your plan and insurer*). This is a substantial amount and should adequately cover your healthcare needs, considering that MediShield Life (the basic and compulsory insurance plan all Singaporeans have) only has a claim limit of $150,000 a year.
To know if you are covered for private hospitalisation, simply answer the questions below:
- Are you a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident?
- Did you top up your MediShield Life with an Integrated Shield Plan?
- Did you select a 'Private Hospitals as Charged' plan?
- Do you pay annually for a rider that covers your hospital bill from the first dollar?
If you answered yes to all the above questions, you are probably covered for 90 – 100% of your private hospitalisation bills!
Myth 4: I should avoid choosing private healthcare to cut down on my medical expenses
As mentioned above, if you have an Integrated Shield Plan, you are likely to be partially or even fully covered for treatment at private hospitals.
If that's the case, your private hospital bill would be either highly affordable or completely paid for, placing no extra burden on your medical expenses. In other words, your insurance entitles you to the minimal waiting times, privacy, choice of doctors, comfort, and numerous other benefits that private hospitals offer.
If your Integrated Shield Plan is newer and has a 5% co-pay feature, get an estimate of your out-of-pocket expenses for common surgical procedures at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, Gleneagles Hospital, and Parkway East Hospital.
Myth 5: Even with an Integrated Shield Plan, I still have to pay my bill upon discharge before the insurance payout
Not necessarily! Understanding the pain of having to pay a huge sum of money before receiving your reimbursement, some private hospitals have introduced a cashless benefit, if you meet the following criteria:
- You have a 'Private Hospitals as Charged' plan
- You pay for a full rider annually
- You have a minimum sum of $10,000 in your MediSave
- Your hospital bills are less than or equal to $30,000
- You received an approval for this arrangement 3 – 7 days prior to admission
If you tick all of the boxes above, it means that you do not have to fork out a single cent for the medical expenses you incur, and can expect to pay nothing upon your discharge.
Myth 6: I bought an Integrated Shield Plan and rider years ago. I am fully covered for private healthcare.
With the growing cost of healthcare and announcements made by the Ministry of Health in 2018 that resulted in changes in medical insurance, existing policies with full riders may have a co-pay feature when the plans are renewed in the near future.
That being said, the thing to note is that the co-payment (your out-of-pocket costs) will likely not exceed 5% of your total hospital bill, if you obtain pre-authorisation with your insurer prior to your surgery with a specialist on the insurer's panel. This is subject to annual and lifetime policy claim limits.
With an Integrated Shield Plan and rider, the amount of cash you need to fork out from your pocket for medical bills will be minimal.
Get an estimate of your out-of-pocket expenses for common surgical procedures (and a single-room stay) at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, Gleneagles Hospital, and Parkway East Hospital. You may be surprised at how affordable private healthcare can be.
1 Statistics based on 2018 figures from: https://data.gov.sg/dataset/medishield-and-integrated-shield-plans