One of the most common questions I am asked by Australian expats new to Singapore is what to do about private health insurance.
“Which health insurance company do I choose..?”
“What do I do with my Australian health insurance..?”
“What happens when I decide to move back to Australia..?”
These are all relevant and important questions for Aussie expats to be considering when moving overseas, so this week we explore some of the key health insurance providers in Singapore, what to do if you have employer provided cover, and some strategies to consider for an eventual return home to Australia.
Firstly, let’s explore some of the common providers.
Coverage differs for each company, but it is advisable to obtain one from a reputable, comprehensive and worldwide provider.
BUPA provides international private medical insurance for Australian expatriates. The plans are tailored to ensure that Australian expatriates have peace of mind regarding health insurance. They can cover individuals, families and company employees.
AXA offers a comprehensive Health insurance plan, known as GlobalCare, which offers optimal worldwide coverage for hospitalisation, outpatient treatments, maternity expenses, vaccinations, dental, optical expenses and beyond.
MSIG offers insurance plans that are tailored for expatriates. It has high cover limits of up to S$3 million to cater to the different lifestyles of individuals.
Cigna offers international individual plans that are split into three level of coverage. This offers flexibility in plans that can be catered to your needs as an expatriate.
InterGlobal is an award-winning provider of international private medical insurance (IPMI). They provide tailored medical care cover to thousands of people in many locations around the world. In Singapore, InterGlobal offers the UltraCare insurance plans for expatriates in Singapore. They are specifically designed to accommodate globally mobile clients.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health insurance, so it’s important to be specific about what you’re looking for in a health insurance company, seek professional advice, and ensure that it meets your needs.
What about if you already have employer-provided health insurance..?
It is not uncommon for employers of Australian expats in Singapore to provide some form of health insurance. In some cases, it’s exceptional cover, however this is rarely the case, so it’s important to review your cover and be aware of what you’re actually covered for. In many cases, your company health insurance plan might cover the basics, however wouldn’t provide exceptional cover in the event of an emergency or unforeseen illness.
In this case, it could be a sensible option to have a back-up health insurance plan for one of the better or preferred providers with a high excess level. This could mean that you’re not paying through the roof for the annual premium, but that you can sleep easy at night knowing that you’re covered in the event that emergency strikes. This back-up policy can also mean that if you change employers for any reason, you will already have a policy in place.
What should you do with your health insurance back in Australia..?
The ideal scenario for most Australian expats, particularly if they don’t plan on remaining in Singapore or outside of Australia for too long (< 5 years) would be to simply suspend the insurance policy. Different health insurance providers will have different limits on this, and you may need to pay another premium every now and then before suspending it further. It’s important to review what your health insurance provider will allow here, as some may impose restrictions.
The key goal of suspending your Australian health insurance is to ensure that if you do return to Australia and you have a pre-existing health condition, you are not applying for a new policy as a new member, which could be significantly more expensive. It can also often bypass lengthy waiting periods in some cases.
What should you consider when you move back to Australia..?
If you were able to suspend your Australian health insurance plan, this should be a relatively simple process of cancelling your international plan, and restarting your domestic policy. It would be worthwhile conducting a quick review to ensure that you’re still happy with the provider and it’s still meeting your health insurance needs for you and your family. If not, then it’s time to review your options, and take out the private health insurance policy that’s right for you.
If you didn’t have an Australian policy suspended or cancelled it before you left, but you’ve been with an international provider such as BUPA while in Singapore or elsewhere abroad, you may want to discuss with them whether they’ll allow you to ‘transition’ onto one of their domestic plans in Australia. Given that they already have your health and payment records, this may make the transition to Australia much more seamless.
The health insurance market is growing quickly with many new providers creating solutions for Australian expats, so be sure to review your options and ensure that you have the right strategies in place.
To Your Financial Success!
Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner with Australian Expatriate Group of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd – No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3
Australian Expatriate Group is a division of Global Financial Consultants in Singapore providing specialist advice to Australians living abroad.
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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.
*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.