Healthcare in Singapore
The standard of healthcare in Singapore is exemplary. The city-state is consistently ranked amongst the best-performing countries in the world when it comes to healthcare, and certainly has one of the top systems in Asia. Medical staff are almost always proficient in English, and facilities are world-class.
Both public and private sector services are available, and though expats often debate the merits of each, both function efficiently and professionally. The private sector is more expensive than public healthcare, but many are happy to pay the higher price in exchange for shorter waiting times and more comfort. That said, many expats will argue that there isn't a big difference between waiting times in public and private care.
When it comes to health insurance, Singapore has a fairly unique system of universal coverage in which patients are expected to co-pay for most of their medical expenses, but in return they have access to basic, affordable healthcare when it's needed most.
Unfortunately, only expats who are permanent residents or citizens will have access to this care, while those on normal work passes will either need to take out insurance on their own or receive insurance through their employer.
Public healthcare in Singapore
Public hospitals are among the most respected institutions in Singapore. The more esteemed hospitals even receive complicated cases that neighbouring countries aren't equipped to handle.
That said, these facilities mainly cater to locals and permanent residence holders who are entitled to subsidised care on the basis of their contributions to a national insurance scheme. Expats with work passes are not privy to these subsidies, and in such cases, there isn't a big difference in price between public and private care.
Private healthcare in Singapore
Many expats prefer to use private healthcare in Singapore, since it doesn't cost much more than public facilities, but the service levels are assumed to be better.
There are plenty of private hospitals, medical centres and individual practices in the city-state; expats simply have to decide which one suits their needs and is the most convenient.
It isn't necessary to have health insurance to take advantage of private facilities, and day-to-day healthcare costs can be surprisingly affordable. That said, health insurance is important when it comes to costs associated with more complicated illnesses or an unexpected emergency.
Hospitals in Singapore
378 Alexandra Road, Singapore 159964
Bright Vision Hospital
5 Lorong Napiri, Singapore 547530
6A Napier Road, Singapore 258500
Mount Elizabeth Hospital
3 Mount Elizabeth, Singapore 228510
Health insurance in Singapore
Only permanent residents and citizens can take advantage of Medisave, the compulsory state insurance scheme that requires both employees and employers to make monthly contributions in exchange for hospital coverage.
Many companies in Singapore include health insurance in employment packages, though, and if the subject is not broached during contract negotiation, expats should enquire.
Both local and international insurance companies operate in Singapore, and there are numerous plans and types of coverage available. Costs vary tremendously, and expats will need to evaluate each package to find the best fit for them.
Pharmacies in Singapore
Prescription and over-the-counter medications are available across Singapore from supermarkets, department stores, shopping centres and chemists. Imported medicines are expensive but cheaper generic equivalents are widely available.
Expats should note that some drugs that can be bought over the counter in other countries may require a prescription in Singapore, and vice versa.
Health risks in Singapore
The two biggest health concerns for expats are likely to be sunburn and dehydration. The wall of heat and humidity that greets newly arrived expats when they first step out of the air-conditioned confines of the airport is hard to anticipate. Staying well hydrated and using sunblock is vital for defending against the year-round summer weather.
Emergency services in Singapore
The national police number in Singapore is 999, while 995 is the number to dial for fire and ambulance emergency services. Ambulances are generally very well equipped and patients will be transported to the nearest government hospital. Ambulance staff are trained in trauma and life support.
Expats can also choose to use the ambulance services of a private hospital of their choice, but in this instance, they'll need to obtain the relevant emergency number from the chosen hospital.