Healthcare in Singapore
Singapore boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world and in the year 2000 it was ranked 6th best in the World Health Organizations list of global health systems. With its relatively small size Singapore boasts over 20 well-equipped and well-funded hospitals. Each contains the latest medical technology and employs over 11,500 highly skilled doctors and well trained nursing staff. 13 of those hospitals are private whilst the rest are government funded.
Unlike in the UK, healthcare in Singapore is not free. Instead the government grants subsidies to citizens the amount of which varies depending on the individual’s income. As an expat it is highly recommended that you invest in a medical insurance scheme as you never know when an accident or illness could occur. It is recommended to check your insurance policy to make sure you are covered while travelling abroad. The importance of this is magnified by the fact that foreigners need to pay a 30% premium fee to the normal cost that Singaporeans would pay. If your insurance does not cover you, it is possible to purchase insurance for overseas protection.
If you’re immigrating to Singapore with a pre-existing medical condition and receive medication via prescription in your home country, you will not be able to get it filled in a Singaporean pharmacy. Instead you will need to visit a Singaporean doctor before you can claim the same or similar prescription. To make things easier it is wise to bring along your existing prescription to show the doctor and to make sure you get the same or similar drugs. You can then get the medicine at most supermarkets or pharmacies. These are typically opened from 9am until 6pm although some remain open until 10pm.
If leaving for Singapore you should visit your doctor at least four to six weeks before you depart as you will need to be vaccinated against a number of diseases. If travelling to other nearby regions you should make sure that you also get vaccinated for those as well.
The following vaccinations are recommended:
- All routine injections (measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis diphtheria, tetanus, polio).
- Hepatitis A and B.
- Japanese Encephaltis.
Due to the country’s location diseases are often spread via insect bites. It is recommended that you use a strong insect repellent to reduce risks. It’s also a good idea not to walk anywhere bare footed and ensure good food and water hygiene practices.
Water is classed as clean and safe to drink in Singapore. Heat exhaustion and sunstroke are quite common especially for newly arrived expats. Make sure that you allow your body time to adjust; the climate is high humidity so it can take a while to get used to it.