Woman who is hopeful about managing the cost of her cancer treatments.

Why cancer insurance is worth considering

This article is Part 2 of a two-part series on the realities of cancer in Singapore.

Cancer treatment is expensive, especially if the treatment is extended over a long period of time.

There are also non-medical costs to consider:

  • Potential loss of income if you’re unable to work during the period of treatment and recovery that could range from a few months to a couple of years
  • Need to employ domestic help for household chores if the patient is the main caregiver and homemaker in the family

That’s why private health insurance – cancer insurance in particular – is a serious option.

(Read more: Cost of battling cancer in Singapore)


Government schemes help, but may not be enough

Singaporeans are covered by government subsidies of up to 80% of the total bill in acute public hospital wards. Note that you’ll have to opt to stay in a subsidised ward (B2+/B2/C) to qualify for these subsidies.

Medisave and Medishield Life are starting points for financial coverage for cancer and other critical illnesses. However, there are limits to claims from both Medisave and Medishield. Non-medical costs are also not covered by these schemes.

 

What the government schemes cover, and don’t cover


Scheme Details
Medisave What is it
  • A compulsory medical savings scheme for Singaporeans.
  • You can use Medisave for some cancer investigations, surgery, medication, and hospitalisation.
Limitations
  • There are limits on Medisave withdrawals. Take inpatient surgery for example: the limit is S$450 per day for hospital charges for normal ward, and up to S$50 for doctor’s daily attendance fees at the National Cancer Centre Singapore1.
  • There are also limits for the different categories of surgeries, ranging from S$250-S$7,550.
  • Given the potentially large expenses for cancer treatment, you have to be mindful whether you have enough in your Medisave account to pay for all the costs that could mount up.
Medishield Life What is it
  • A medical insurance scheme operated by the Central Provident Fund
  • Provides additional medical insurance coverage for large hospitalisation bills that cannot be adequately covered by Medisave.
  • Such large hospitalisation bills usually happen from serious and/or prolonged illness such as cancer.
Limitations
  • There are limits to the payouts from Medishield Life. The most important to note is that the maximum claim per year is S$100,000.
  • Payouts are also pegged to B2/C-type wards in public hospitals.
  • Based on your age, there is also a deductible and an insurance co-payment amount that you need to pay each year (in cash or Medisave) before your Medishield Life coverage kicks in.

The role of private health insurance in battling cancer

Comprehensive private health insurance is a broader option if you can afford it. However, not all of these policies have adequate coverage for cancer. Read the fine print. If your policy is one of these, it may be worth getting an additional policy that’s specific to cancer care.

But if all you want is coverage for cancer, there are specific policies at rates that are generally cheaper than comprehensive health coverage.


A case study: how CancerCare insurance policy can help

Mr. Tan is a Singaporean citizen with a family of four: wife and two married daughters. Aged 55, he enjoys taking care of the grandchildren, and is looking forward to his golden years.

He has always led a healthy lifestyle, but was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. His treatment involved a colonscopy for diagnosis, and subsequent surgery to remove part of his intestine and rectum.

  1. If he opted for subsidised wards in a public hospital, he would need Medisave and Medishield Life to help cover the remaining S$7,334* bill.
  2. If he opted for an unsubsidised B1 ward, his bill would increase to S$26,470*.
  3. And if he consulted with a specialist at a private hospital, his out-of-pocket costs would increase to S$53,648*.

*Treatment costs source: Ministry of Health, ‘Fee benchmarks and bill amount information’, accessed on 15 July 2019.


This however assumes no complications, and doesn’t take into account chemotherapy, follow-up checks, and screenings.

(One blogger estimates the cost of treating late stage cancer in Singapore at $100,000 to $200,000 per year. This is a generalisation, but it is possible for treatment of some forms of late stage cancer at private hospitals.)

With a private health insurance policy like CancerCare, Mr. Tan would be able to alleviate his financial burden from the cancer benefit payout of S$50,000 to S$150,000, depending on the plan type he bought.

Enhance your coverage with CancerCare

Typically, cancer insurance covers only the later stages of cancer, is troublesome to apply for as it involves health checks and page after page of health declarations. In addition, cancer insurance is perceived to be expensive.

This is where CancerCare turns its head on the competition (and why we named it ‘Care’):

  • Comprehensive coverage for all stages of cancer, including early stage cancer, up to age 75
  • Affordably priced from S$8.902 /month (the cost of 2 lattes)
  • Reassuring, with 100% payout upon diagnosis with any stage of cancer3
  • Easy to apply for, with just 1 medical question to answer

If you already have cancer coverage, take this chance to review. You might find benefits from enhancing your coverage for the costs of cancer treatment and recovery.

It’s different from medical expense insurance, where your claims depend on the actual medical expenses. Having more medical expense insurance policies doesn’t necessarily provide more benefits. But with CancerCare? It’s like a booster shot to your finances when dealing with the cost of cancer treatments and recovery.

Part 1: Reality check: cost of battling cancer in Singapore.

Sources and notes
1 National Cancer Centre Singapore, accessed 15 July 2019. ‘Using Medisave’.
2 The premium amount is based on a male, aged 18. Refer to the Product Documents for the Policy Illustration and Product Summary.
3 There won’t be a cancer benefit payout if: the life insured did not survive for at least 7 days from the date of diagnosis of a cancer; the date of diagnosis of a cancer is within 90 days from the policy issue date or the date of reinstatement of this policy, whichever is later; if the life insured has contracted HIV, AIDS or any AIDS-related condition; or if cancer was pre-existing.

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