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Private Healthcare: An Affordable & Viable Opportunity

December 20, 2018
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Most Singaporeans grow up with the impression that healthcare is costly. There’s a common saying that it’s cheaper to die than to fall sick in Singapore.

Just like most other countries, Singapore’s medical scene comprises two distinct arms, the public sector, and the private sector.

Characteristically, many associate the public healthcare sector as one that’s more affordable for the masses. We usually associate public institutions as ones that are subsidised, cheaper, and more budget-friendly. Overcharging and overtreating happens little in the public sector due to the tight regulations and budget considerations.

With new schemes in place such as the Pioneer Generation and the Community Health Assistance Scheme (CHAS), healthcare is becoming more affordable for those in the lower-income brackets.

To put it simply, short waiting times, a wider range of specialist treatments and medical resources, and well-appointed hospital wards.

Right Here, Right Now

Wait times at private GPs, depending on the clinic, can be as short as <1 hour as opposed to the 3-4 hour wait time you could expect at polyclinics.

Waiting for specialist appointments for rare illnesses is also less laborious. In the private sector, you could be seen by a doctor within a day or up to a week, to undergo treatment and receive treatment.

A short waiting time can help to unload your worries so you can focus on your treatment and recovery.

Treatment and Services

Receiving care from the private sector is often synonymous with quality treatment. The diverse equipment and treatment options available would definitely serve you well in your road to recovery.

You not only get to choose the ideal treatment you want, but you also get to choose your physician of choice. This means you can choose a doctor you trust more, or simply are more comfortable being around.

The Issue of Cost

The problem with going to the more luxurious private sector is merely the hefty cost. While healthcare might be ideally a universal right, quality and affordable ones are not. Price is the biggest barrier why most of us don’t head straight to Gleneagles when we need a specialist appointment.

However, does it have to be this way?

Bridging the Gap

Most times, going to the private healthcare sector means forking out tons of money, but not always.

Better Priced Rooms on Selected Days

Recently, private hospitals such as Gleneagles and Mount Elizabeth Orchard have revised their weekend rates for us Singaporeans.

The variety of options offered by private hospitals on bedding arrangements also accommodates those with different budgets.

If 1-bedded wards are out of your price range, you might consider 4-bedded hospital rooms, the rates of which have been revised on all days at Parkway East.

Greater Price Transparency

Some of us worry about hidden costs in private hospitals. However, with fixed price bundles for common procedures such as endoscopes or cataracts, patients can now better predict their costs and have good peace of mind over such financial matters as they undergo their treatment.

To put patients’ minds at ease, Parkway Hospitals are the first to publish their prices of common medical procedures over the last couple of years.

Insurance

Whether you’re under a company plan or a personal hospital plan, you might have private insurance that could cover you through your stay in a public hospital.

If you have an integrated shield plan, especially if you have a rider available, your stay and treatment at Gleneagles, Mount Elizabeth or Parkway East may be fully covered.

Outpatient bills at the A&E can also be covered if you have the right insurance, and if you’re admitted for over 8 hours in the hospital, the trip would be free.

Public Conundrums

The public healthcare system is excellent, well-organised, subsidised and affordable, but there are reasons some of us aren’t fans.

Wait Times

One of the most significant issues faced by patients in the public sector is the waiting time. If you’ve had the choice to visit a private general practitioner (GP) near your house or visit a polyclinic when you’re down with a cold, you’ll probably head to a GP (if cost is not an issue).

Waiting to see a doctor can be a frustrating or miserable experience, especially if you require urgent medical care.

Appointment Times

If you’ve tried to book a specialist appointment in the public sector, you’ll know that the waiting time can be long. Reports released by the public hospitals suggest that patients must be prepared to wait for 6-10 months from their initial consultation to getting their first treatment.

A Final Word

Whilst private hospitals used to be more expensive for the average joe, with schemes such as lowered rates for Singaporeans and more robust insurance plans, the gap between the cost of private and public hospitals is lowering.

If you have the right insurance plans, why not consider getting yourself a private healthcare experience?

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Wayne Quek

Wayne is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and holds a Bachelor of Business Management (Finance) from Singapore Management University (SMU). A successful Relationship Manager during his time with DBS and HSBC, Wayne used his expertise in financial markets to help his clients build up comprehensive investment portfolios. The entrepreneur is also the founder of Home Loan Whiz, a mortgage consulting firm that assists clients with selecting ideal mortgages for their needs.

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