With Singapore reporting 73 new cases on Wednesday, the biggest surge in a day, the government has stepped up its measures to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. In this article, we’ll be covering the full implications of Ministry of Health’s announcement that Singaporean residents and long-term pass holders who leave Singapore from 27 March onwards will be charged non-subsidized rates if they’re admitted to hospital for COVID-19 within 14 days of returning to Singapore.
As you’d expect, the rationale behind this announcement was to prevent Singaporeans from going abroad given that more than half of the new cases have been imported.
1. Paying more for healthcare
In the existing system, Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are eligible for hospital subsidies of up to 80% in public hospitals for class B2/C ward. For COVID-19 specifically, the government currently pays testing fees and hospital fees for all Singaporeans. The testing fees costs approximately $260-270 while the hospital fees varies immensely and could depend on many factors such as the severity of the infection.
Do note that foreigners pay the full price for any kind of hospital services they might require in their time in Singapore. Therefore, in the event that you contract COVID-19 symptoms should you choose to travel out of Singapore after 27th of March 2020, your hospital treatment costs could be similar to a foreigner’s treatment costs.
2. Non-subsidized rates only for symptoms within 14 days of arrival
In the event that you decide to not follow the advice of many medical professionals and the government and choose to travel overseas, you may be fortunate if you contract symptoms after 14 days of coming back to Singapore. The policy of non-subsidized rates to Singaporeans who contract COVID-19 symptoms after coming back from overseas only applies for the first 14 days of your arrival. In case you show any symptoms after that duration, the government and the hospital services will be under the impression that you contracted the COVID-19 locally. Thus, you’ll in this case be covered for COVID-19 treatment.
3. No coverage from MediShield Life or Private Integrated Shield Plan
Medshield Life and Integrated Shield plans, which are health insurance plans provided by the Singaporean government to cover its residents against large hospital bills, cannot be used for covering against COVID-19 in such a scenario. Therefore, neither the government nor the private issuer will be reimbursing you for hospital costs for COVID-19 in the instance you travel overseas after 27 March.
4. Deprioritized entry approvals and significant delays for work pass holders and their dependents
Individuals who’re not citizens but instead have work passes are set to experience significant delays on their journey back to Singapore. Currently, all work pass holders need to obtain prior approval from the Ministry of Manpower before coming to Singapore. With this measure, the Singapore government has made it tougher for work pass holders to get entry back to Singapore if they decide to leave after 27 March.
5. Lack of clarity on other hospital cash insurance
While there have been a lot of issuers which have come forward to give additional advantages to policyholders for COVID-19, it remains unclear whether these perks will remain in case you travel overseas and come back to Singapore. In this regard, it might be in your best interest to check from your insurance providers or other experienced professionals to get a better picture about your plan.
Given the huge spike in cases worldwide and the lockdown that many countries have experienced, the recent curb on travel might help in reducing the spread of COVID-19 cases in Singapore. In this regard, Singaporean residents can do their share in combating the virus by following the guidelines laid down by the government and exercising personal hygiene.
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