Ever considered seeking treatment in a private hospital but held back because of how expensive it is?

We know the benefits of opting for private healthcare – minimal waiting time, privacy, comfort, etc. Yet many of us are plagued with fears of hidden charges, unaffordable bills and the like.

How well do these worries match up to reality, though?

Here are 5 common myths about private hospital bills that we might have bought into – and how to ease our anxieties about them.

Myth #1 Private hospitals are not transparent about their charges

Uncertainty over a hospital bill size has always sparked anxiety in patients, yet patients in Singapore can rest easy. Singapore hospitals, both public and private, post their charges (including room fees) on their respective websites.

You can check out the estimated bill size of common medical procedures listed on the website of your private hospital. There, you can find the low (25th percentile), middle (50th percentile) and high (75th percentile) costs of common medical procedures. This includes the total charges of the different procedures, and a simple breakdown of the hospitalisation and doctors’ charges as well.

Most private hospitals also offer a Price Assurance Programme that offers fixed prices for standard procedures without any complications. These prices can similarly be found on the website.

If you decide to seek treatment at a private hospital, financial counselling will be provided before admission so that you can estimate the size of your medical bill. If you have any doubts about the associated costs, you can always clarify!

Image via Shutterstock.comImage via Shutterstock.com

Image via Shutterstock.com

Myth #2 Insurance users are charged inflated rates

False. Basically, private hospitals cannot do this. As mentioned above, private hospitals in Singapore are required to be transparent and clear with their rates. There is no double standard in fees whether you are insured or not.

When bills differ from the listed fixed prices, they are incurred in the case of additional complications with the patients. In any case, pre-hospitalisation counselling will give you clarity about the cost, whether you are using insurance or not. The counsellors also assist you with an estimate of the amount you may claim from your insurance firm and the amount you may need to shell out of your pocket, if any.[1]

Myth #3 My health insurance doesn’t cover me sufficiently for private hospitals

You may be surprised to know that 2 in 3 Singaporeans have Integrated Shield Plans, and of them, half are covered for private healthcare. That means that 1 in 3 Singaporeans are covered for private medical treatment, and you are likely to be one of them.

If you are, you may be covered up to a grand total of $700,000* per year, sufficiently taking care of your private hospital bill.

How do you know if you are well covered for private hospitalisation?

  • Are you a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident?
  • Did you top up your MediShield Life with an Integrated Shield Plan?
  • Did you select a “Private Hospitals as Charged” plan?
  • Do you pay annually for a “rider” that covers your hospital bill from the first dollar?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions, you are probably covered for 90 – 100% of your medical bills for private hospitals!

Myth #4 Even with an Integrated Shield Plan, I’ll have to share part of the hospital bill

An Integrated Shield Plan for private healthcare covers a large percentage of your hospital bill, but patients would be expected to pay the deductible (the first $3,500 of the bill) and co-insurance (10% of the remaining hospital bill).

However, if you have a “rider” that covers both the deductible and co-insurance, you could be paying a grand total of $0 for your medical treatment.

Even if you don’t, take heart that your Integrated Shield Plan accounts for your pre and post- hospitalisation consultations, on top of your hospitalisation bill. In the long run, it could well save you a large sum of money.

Myth #5 Even with an Integrated Shield Plan, I still have to pay my bill upon discharge before the insurance pay out

Not necessarily! Understanding the pain of having to pay a huge sum of money before receiving your reimbursement, some private hospitals have a cashless system put in place for your benefit, if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have a “Private Hospitals as Charged” plan
  • You pay for a “rider” annually
  • You have a minimum sum of $10,000 in your Medisave
  • Your hospital bills are less than or equal to $30,000
  • You received an approval for this arrangement 3-7 days prior to admission

If you tick of all the boxes above, it means that you do not have to fork out a single cent for the medical expenses you incur, and can expect to pay $0 upon your discharge.

These are precisely the reasons that make your Integrated Shield Plan an affordable healthcare plan, whether you go to a private hospital or public one.