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Singapore – Health Insurance

Is Health Insurance Mandatory in Singapore

Health insurance is not mandatory for all residents in Singapore. However, the Singaporean government strongly encourages individuals to have health insurance coverage to safeguard against potentially high medical costs. While there is no legal requirement for citizens and permanent residents to have health insurance, some groups, such as foreign workers and long-term visit pass holders, are required to have specific types of health insurance as a condition of their stay in Singapore.

The State Health Insurance System in Singapore

The state health insurance system in Singapore is known as “MediShield Life.” It is a compulsory national health insurance scheme designed to provide basic health coverage for all citizens and permanent residents of Singapore. MediShield Life is managed by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, and it aims to help individuals manage the costs of large hospital bills and selected outpatient treatments.

What Does MediShield Life Cover?

MediShield Life provides coverage for a range of medical services and treatments, including but not limited to:

  1. Inpatient Hospitalization: Coverage for hospital stays, surgeries, and medical treatments received in public hospitals.

  2. Day Surgery and Surgical Procedures: Certain outpatient surgical procedures performed in hospitals.

  3. Cancer Treatment: Coverage for cancer-related treatments, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

  4. Selected Outpatient Treatments: Coverage for certain outpatient treatments received in public hospitals.

  5. Selected Chronic Diseases: Coverage for the treatment and management of chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

  6. Pre- and Post-Hospitalization Expenses: Coverage for medical expenses incurred before and after hospitalization.

How to Apply for MediShield Life in Singapore

To join the state health insurance system, MediShield Life, follow these steps:

  1. Automatic Enrollment (For Citizens and Permanent Residents):

    • Citizens and permanent residents are automatically enrolled in MediShield Life and do not need to apply separately.
  2. Check Eligibility:

    • Ensure that you are a Singapore citizen or permanent resident to be eligible for MediShield Life.
  3. MediSave Account:

    • Ensure that you have an active MediSave account. MediShield Life premiums are deducted from MediSave.
  4. Premium Payment:

    • MediShield Life premiums are automatically deducted from your MediSave account.
  5. MediShield Life Coverage:

    • Once enrolled, you will receive the benefits of MediShield Life coverage for basic healthcare needs.
  6. Policy Updates and Premium Adjustments:

    • Stay updated with any policy changes or premium adjustments made by the CPF Board.

Advantages of International Private Medical Insurance for Expats

While MediShield Life provides basic health coverage for citizens and permanent residents, international private medical insurance offers additional benefits, especially for expats living in Singapore. Some advantages of international private medical insurance for expats include:

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  1. Broader Coverage: International private medical insurance often offers broader coverage, including access to private hospitals and specialist care.

  2. Higher Limits: Private insurance may have higher claim limits, allowing for greater coverage for expensive medical treatments.

  3. Choice of Doctors and Hospitals: Expats with private insurance can choose their preferred doctors and hospitals, offering more personalized care.

  4. Access to Expatriate-Focused Services: Some international insurers offer services tailored to expats, such as multilingual customer support and assistance with medical evacuation.

  5. Coverage Beyond Singapore: Expats with international insurance can be covered even when they travel outside of Singapore, providing peace of mind during international trips.

  6. Additional Services: Private insurance may include additional services, such as wellness programs, preventive health screenings, and mental health support.

  7. Family Coverage: Private insurance plans often provide options for family coverage, ensuring that all family members are protected.

  8. Shorter Waiting Times: Private medical insurance may offer shorter waiting times for appointments and treatments compared to public healthcare services.


Health insurance in Singapore is not mandatory for citizens and permanent residents, but it is strongly encouraged to have coverage through the state health insurance system, MediShield Life. MediShield Life provides basic health coverage for all Singaporeans and permanent residents to manage large hospital bills and selected outpatient treatments.

Expats living in Singapore may consider international private medical insurance for additional benefits, broader coverage, and flexibility in choosing doctors and hospitals. Private insurance can offer tailored services for expatriates, higher claim limits, and coverage even beyond Singapore’s borders.

It is essential for expats to assess their individual healthcare needs and preferences and compare different insurance options to find a plan that best suits their requirements and provides the necessary peace of mind for their time in Singapore.

Please note that the information provided in this article is based on general practices related to health insurance in Singapore, and specific insurance policies and regulations may vary. It is always advisable to refer to official sources and consult with insurance providers for the most accurate and up-to-date information on health insurance in the country.

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