Let’s talk about health insurance riders – it’s not the most exciting topic but we promise you that understanding this will help you avoid a lot of confusion around your hospital bill. Before we get into the specifics, let’s get the basics out of the way. 


What are insurance riders?

Insurance riders are additional benefits that you can purchase to enhance your existing policy coverage. Think of them as ice-cream toppings – not essential but good to have. There are different types of insurance riders available for different types of insurance policies.

In this article, we’ll focus on helping you understand riders for Integrated Shield Plans (IPs):

  • what are they?
  • how do they work?
  • do you really need them?

But first, a quick refresher on IPs. 

IPs are plans that give you more comprehensive protection, without overlapping your MediShield Life coverage. They form an essential part of the health insurance plan for Singaporeans and permanent residents as they complement the benefits of MediShield Life to provide wider and higher hospitalisation and medical coverage. Singlife Shield is an example of an IP.


What are Integrated Shield Plan riders?

IP riders are plans that can be added to your IP to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses such as deductible and co-insurance. These are also known as co-pay or co-payment. If you’re not familiar with these terms, we’ve got you covered here.

In addition to reducing your co-payment (i.e., deductible and co-insurance), IP riders may offer benefits such as a lump-sum payout if you’re diagnosed with a critical illness.

Singlife Health Plus rider offers

  • coverage for deductible and/or co-insurance under Singlife Shield
  • a lump-sum payout upon diagnosis of any of the covered critical illnesses
  • Mental Wellness benefit, which covers expenses associated with outpatient psychiatric consultation
  • free cover or discounted premium rate on Singlife Health Plus for your children up to age 20

How do riders work?

Policyholders with IP riders are required to co-pay at least 5% of their total claimable hospital bill. This means after the deductible is paid, the insurer can pay up to 95% of your medical bills while you co-pay 5%. Full IP riders that cover the entire hospital bill were phased out in April 20211 as recommended by the Health Insurance Task Force2, except for claims-based pricing plans offered by selected insurers3. This helps to keep healthcare costs affordable and encourages the public to be more accountable for their healthcare expenses.


Here’s an example of how your out-of-pocket medical expenses can be reduced with the Singlife Health Plus rider.

Let’s say you’re covered under Singlife Shield Plan 1 and Singlife Health Plus Private Prime rider. You stayed in a private hospital and incurred a medical bill of S$150,000. Your IP has a S$3,500 annual deductible and a 10% co-insurance feature. Your Singlife Health Plus Private Prime rider will reduce your annual deductible, as well as your co-insurance amount.

Without rider With rider

Total hospital bill (treated by a panel specialist)



Less: Deductible



Less: Co-insurance

S$14,650 ([150,000-3500]x10%)


Total amount payable by insurer



Total amount payable by you



^Your deductible is reduced to S$500 and your co-insurance amount is capped at S$3,000 per policy year as long as you obtain a Certificate of Pre-authorisation on your treatment and you’re treated by a specialist on Singlife’s panel. You can tap on your MediSave account to pay for the co-payment, subject to MediSave withdrawal limits.

The above example shows you will pay S$14, 650 less out-of-pocket expense if you have a rider. Do note that the out-of-pocket expense may not be the same for all insurers as it depends on the policy coverage.

So, do you really need a rider?


So, the question is: are IP riders essential? While it’s not critical to add a rider to your IP, it’ll definitely help to reduce out-of-pocket expenses due to hospitalisation.

With a rider, you can enjoy greater peace of mind and focus on your recovery without the need to worry about large medical bills.

However, before buying a rider, it is important to evaluate and understand the options available based on your needs and affordability as the benefits and level of coverage provided by each insurer are different. The rider’s premium also adds on to your IP premium every year.


Important Notes

1. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Extracted with permission. “MOH welcomes insurers’ move to adjust terms for full-rider IPs, require co-payment of hospital bills”, 17 February 2021. 

2 . The Health Insurance Task Force was formed in February 2016 with the objective to ensure Singapore residents have access to affordable quality healthcare. It comprises members from the medical community, insurance industry, consumer associations and is supported by the Ministry of Health and Monetary Association of Singapore.

3. Please refer to the respective insurers’ websites for more details. 

Find out more about our medical insurance plans today

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The content of the blog – LifeStuff is published for general information only and does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs of any specific person. The objective of this blog is merely for educational purposes and is not intended to serve as legal, tax, investment or accounting advice and nothing contained here shall constitute a distribution, an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy. Accordingly, no warranty whatsoever is given, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted by Singapore Life Ltd for any loss arising whether directly or indirectly as a result from you acting based on this information.


You may wish to seek advice from a financial adviser representative before making a commitment to purchase the products. If you choose not to seek advice from a financial adviser representative, you should consider whether the product in question is suitable for you. The polices are protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme, and administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the LIA or SDIC websites (www.lia.org.sg or www.sdic.org.sg).