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.
Both public and private sector services are available, and though expats often debate the merits of each, both function efficiently and professionally. More often than not, expats use private entities for primary care but public hospitals for emergency services and more complex care.
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.
Medical staff are almost always proficient in English, and facilities are world-class. Expats should note that international prescriptions aren't valid in Singapore, so medications will have to be re-prescribed by a local doctor when they arrive. Expats should bring enough of a supply to last the first few months.
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, given their contribution 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.
Private hospitals in Singapore
378 Alexandra Road, Singapore 159964
Bright Vision Hospital
5 Lorong Napiri, Singapore 547530
6A Napier Road, Singapore 258500
Mount Alvernia Hospital
820 Thomson Road, Singapore 574623
Parkway East Hospital
321 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427990
585 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188770
Thomson Medical Centre
339 Thomson Road, Singapore 307677
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.
Most large and medium-sized companies in Singapore include health insurance in employment packages, 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 packages. 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.
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.