This post was written in collaboration with Raffles Health Insurance and Bupa Global. While we are financially compensated by them, we nonetheless strive to maintain our editorial integrity and review products with the same objective lens. We are committed to providing the best information in order for you to make personal financial decisions with confidence. You can view our Editorial Guidelines here.
You may think that international health insurance is something that only expats, and increasingly, digital nomads, do.
Definitely, remote working is now more possible due to digitalisation efforts. However, the benefits of an international health insurance plan extend beyond just being able to claim health insurance while you’re changing geographics.
Did you know that a robust international health insurance plan may offer a higher annual limit? This comes in useful for recurrent/ongoing treatments such as chemotherapy, which can cost hundreds to over thousands Singapore dollars per month, depending on the drugs needed. Childbirth may also be covered. And if the treatment you require is not available locally, this insurance may cover your cost of flying overseas for it.
In comparison, general local health insurance plans in Singapore mostly cover essential hospitalisation, maybe some basic outpatient costs through a lumpsum amount. Annual limits tend to be lower, and local maternity insurance is typically a standalone product.
Could it be time to consider an international health insurance plan? Let’s dive deeper into this type of insurance, using the suite of insurance plans from Raffles Health Insurance and Bupa Global as a case study.
Local vs International Health Insurance: What’s the difference?
By default, all Singaporeans are covered by health insurance. The most basic form is the government-mandated MediShield Life, though some may have opted for the upgraded version, Integrated Shield Plans, for higher coverage.
These local health insurance plans all cover only hospitalisation in Singapore. So if you’re overseas, you won’t be adequately covered.
What about your company’s health insurance, you ask? If you’re an employee, you’re probably covered by a group health insurance plan. This plugs the gap for non-hospitalisation healthcare costs such as seeing the GP for common illnesses.
However, these benefits vary from company to company, and the coverage may be limited to specific countries. Of course, if you leave your job to take a sabbatical or become self-employed, you will lose all that health insurance coverage from work.
If relocating or extended travel is a possibility for you, you’ll want to consider an international health insurance plan on top of your existing coverage.
An international health insurance plan is a standalone plan. It’s designed for those with international lifestyles and who demand a high level of medical protection in and outside of Singapore. Perhaps most importantly, it’s tied to you, not to your employment status. So regardless of where your career takes you, you can still have health insurance coverage.
Suite of insurance plans from Raffles Health Insurance and Bupa Global
Consider the suite of insurance plans from Raffles Health Insurance and Bupa Global.
Now, you probably have heard of Raffles Health Insurance, one of the 7 insurers offering Integrated Shield Plans here. Their Raffles Shield plan offers essential coverage for local hospitalisation.
For those who travel or work around Asia, Raffles also offers a regional medical insurance plan called Raffles Elite Care, which covers you throughout most of Southeast Asia as well as India, China and South Korea.
However, well-heeled professionals may find this coverage inadequate for their travel or relocation plans. After all, your work might take you to New York, Tokyo, London, Zurich, San Francisco, and so on. One of the benefits about having international private medical insurance is the higher annual limit, so you’re always well-covered not just from unexpected medical costs but also the costs of preventive treatment!
Thus, Raffles has partnered with award-winning insurer Bupa Global to provide Worldwide Health Options. Bupa, an international healthcare company headquartered in London, has been around since 1947 and currently serves over 38 million customers worldwide.
As this plan is customisable, you can add optional cover modules such as specialist treatment where you don’t need to stay in hospital, worldwide evacuation for treatment in another country, and more. Each of your family members can also tailor their own health plan that best suits their needs.
The core plan — with a generous overall annual maximum of SGD 4,000,000 / USD 2,890,000 — covers hospital treatment in a private room (be it day surgery, emergency or planned visit) as well as all surgery, eligible cancer treatment (full cover, with no per-diagnosis limit/lifetime limit), mental health treatment, advanced imaging and even childbirth (after the mother has had 24 months’ membership).
Either way, you get global* health insurance coverage, high medical claim limits, and you will have reassurance with 24/7 multilingual phone support from Bupa’s global team of service advisers and access to virtual consultations with the Global Virtual Care mobile app.
*US coverage is an add-on
To recap, here are the 3 types of plans offered by Raffles Health Insurance:
Health insurance plan
Raffles Elite Care
Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, China, India, South Korea
Worldwide Health Options
Worldwide with U.S. cover as optional
For Raffles Elite Care, you can also choose to add on outpatient coverage, which means that your visits to your General Practitioner (GP), Specialist, Teleconsultation and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are covered.
*Available when the Outpatient Rider is added to Raffles Elite Care Gold and Silver plans. Outpatient medical coverage applies only to clinics within the Raffles Medical Group network in Singapore.
Remember, however, that international health insurance is not like travel insurance. Here’s why:
Why can’t I just get travel insurance instead?
Benefits more focused on travel-related contingencies (i.e. lost luggage, cancelled flights, etc)
Covers overseas medical costs, but only in emergencies
Generally expected to travel back home for proper medical treatment
International health insurance:
More comprehensive and holistic medical coverage
Includes outpatient, maternity, dental or optical costs
For those who plan to live overseas for a significant time
What type of health insurance is suitable for me?
Knowing what you do now about local and international health insurance, it’s time to assess your circumstances and decide if your current coverage is appropriate.
As an example: I left corporate life to become a freelance writer, so I’m no longer covered by workplace health insurance. While I remain in Singapore, my local Integrated Shield Plan offers adequate coverage. But I do plan to relocate and work remotely in the future, in which case I’ll prefer to have an international health insurance plan.
It helps to ask yourself the following questions:
Do I qualify for local health insurance and is it sufficient for me?
If I lose my job tomorrow, will I be okay with the lack of workplace health insurance benefits?
Will I travel extensively or unpredictably for work or leisure in the coming year?
Am I looking for (or open to) job offers from overseas?
Might I (or my spouse or family) be relocating anytime soon?
It’s a good idea to have a personal international health insurance plan especially if you are anticipating any sort of extended travel or relocation.
If you already have a specific country or region in mind, make sure to research the healthcare options and costs available. That way, you’ll have an idea of what sort of coverage you might need, and how much you’d be willing to pay to manage those costs.
You may also wish to consider international health insurance even if you don’t plan to move overseas. It could cover non-hospitalisation costs such as outpatient and dental bills and can complement your existing local health insurance quite nicely, especially if you’re not covered by workplace health insurance.
International health insurance can be compatible with existing local health insurance and travel insurance. Each type of insurance serves different purposes and circumstances, assess both your short and long-term needs before deciding which plan best suits you.
Raffles Health Insurance Pte Ltd (“RHI”) (Company Registration Number: 200413569G) is the insurer and Bupa Global, the trading name of Bupa Insurance Services Limited, is the administrator of RHI international health insurance plans in Singapore.
This is only the product information provided by Raffles Health Insurance Pte Ltd. You should seek advice from a qualified adviser if in doubt. Buying health insurance products that are not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance future healthcare needs. This brochure is not a contract of insurance. The standard terms and conditions of this plan are provided in the relevant policy contract. Details are correct at the time of printing and may be subject to change in future.
This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact your insurer or visit the GIA/LIA or SDIC web-sites (www.gia.org.sg or www.lia.org.sg or www.sdic.org.sg).
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