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 check out the estimated bill size of 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 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 (IP) 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 ‘Private Hospitals as Charged’ integrated shield plan and a rider, however, you won’t have to pay anything at all.
Even if you don’t, take heart that 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 health insurance is not sufficient for private hospitalisation
You may be surprised to know that 6 in 10 Singaporeans have integrated shield plans, and of them, half are covered for private healthcare. That means that 1 in 3 Singaporeans are entitled to seek private medical treatment, and you are likely to be one of them. If you are, you are covered up to a grand total of $1,000,000* per year, sufficiently taking care of most of your needs.
To know if you are fully 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 IP?
- 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, you are likely to be 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.
Remember, premiums do not increase with the frequency and size of your bill claims, so you need not worry about using too much of your insurance. Also, there is no lifetime limit to your integrated shield plan, so no amount of money you claim can cause your plan to terminate.
Myth 5: Even with an IP, 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 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 of all 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.
The older integrated shield plans have sub-limits and are not on an ‘as charged’ basis as current plans are. With the growing cost of healthcare, your older plans might not sufficiently cover your medical expenses. You may check with our operators what plan you have and what coverage it provides.
With all that’s said, it’s quite a relief to discover how affordable private hospitalisation can be. If you would like to find out more about the costs of private healthcare, or have any enquiries about your coverage, check with your financial advisors or feel free to call the Mount Elizabeth Hospitals Affordability Hotline +65 6653 7111.
*This is currently the highest lifetime limit, offered by AXA Shield Plan A. Please check with your insurance agent for your policy’s annual coverage.
 Figure drawn from article at:– Salma Khalik, ‘Health coverage: Are you overinsured’ (The Straits Times, Jan 23, 2014) yourhealth.asiaone.com/content/health-coverage-are-you-overinsured