Did you know that medical bills rank among the top five reasons why people in Singapore go into debt?1

Rising healthcare costs might have something to do with it. Singapore’s 2018 healthcare cost inflation hit 10%, 10 times the economic inflation rate2. And it’s a troubling trend.

With our rapidly greying population, it’s not surprising that many Singaporeans would be concerned about increasing hospital bills – specifically, how to manage these unavoidable bills without financial stress (which itself could affect mental health and further drive up medical costs!).

Thankfully, we have the national MediShield Life scheme, a basic health insurance plan that helps all citizens and permanent residents pay for large hospital bills. MediShield Life provides coverage for

  • B2 and C wards as well as surgery charges in public hospitals
  • selected costly outpatient treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer and kidney dialysis


Coverage is automatic from birth and for life, regardless of age and pre-existing conditions. However, there are limits on the claim amount.

For full details on MediShield Life, please refer to the Ministry of Health website here

Is it enough to cover your healthcare costs?

Here are examples of large claims paid by us from 2018 to 2020 that show how hospital and medical bills can rack up for patients.

Illness/ Condition Age Hospital Type Length of Stay Amount Incurred Amount Paid by us^

Breast cancer


Private hospital

397 days



Heart failure


Private hospital

17 days



Acute leukaemia


Private hospital

124 days



^The amount paid by us includes the amount paid from Singlife Health Plus and from MediShield Life.

Because MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan that comes with claim limits and mandatory out-of-pocket expenses, it’s wise to strengthen your financial safety net to be better guarded against unexpected large hospital bills.

How Integrated Shield Plans (IP) help


Integrated Shield Plans (IP) are additional coverage offered by private insurers that are attached to your MediShield Life cover. With this private cover, you’d have access to more benefits such as the freedom to choose your medical specialist from Singlife’s panel of medical specialists, coverage for pre- and post-hospitalisation expenses as well as lower out-of-pocket expenses and so on.

MediShield Life + Integrated Shield Plan vs MediShield Life only

This visual sums up key differences in your healthcare experience if you have an IP and if you don’t.

With IP Without IP

Comfort & privacy

wards for one patient or shared with up to three others (private hospital, or Class A or B1 ward in a restructured hospital).

Non air-conditioned wards shared by more than four patients (Class B2 or C ward in a restructured hospital).

Out-of-pocket expenses for hospital treatment

Medical plan with as charged coverage (i.e. pays for all expenses approved by your insurer, other than mandatory costs that you have to bear).

Medical plan with limits on your coverage amount (i.e. you may have to fork out more money from your own pocket).

Specialist doctor

Freedom to choose a doctor for your treatment.

Any doctor can be assigned to treat you.

Expenses before and after hospital treatment

Pre- and post-hospital treatment expenses covered.

Pre- and post-hospital treatment expenses not covered, so you have to top up cash or use your MediSave to pay some of your bills.

How Singlife’s IP, Singlife Shield, gives greater coverage

Singlife’s IP, called Singlife Shield, gives you access to greater healthcare options, providing you with greater comfort and assurance so you can focus on your wellbeing when you’re ill.

When it comes to getting adequate medical coverage, think about the kind of comfort and healthcare options, and level of financial protection you’d want to have when you’re ill. Of course, consider affordability, too. With the right plan, you can always focus on your wellbeing first, not hefty medical bills, and indeed, avoid medical debt.  

Important Notes

1. Source: The Straits Times© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Extracted with permission. “5 reasons that people in Singapore get into debt”, 29 October 2014.

2. Source: The Straits Times© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Extracted with permission. “Singapore 2018 healthcare cost inflation hits 10%, 10 times the economic inflation rate”: Mercer report, 10 June 2019.

3. Source: https://www.moh.gov.sg/news-highlights/details/government-accepts-medishield-life-council-s-recommendations-and-commits-2.2-billion-for-premium-subsidies-and-support/

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).