We can agree unanimously that health and medical help is on top of our minds right now.
At a time when health is a priority, it’s good to be aware of how much you can be expected to spend when you step out for a screening. Strangely, though, health screenings in Singapore have a reputation for being costly because we’re used to the narrative that all things medical on our tiny island is expensive. Frankly, the reality is quite the opposite.
There are plenty of healthcare providers offering a myriad of health screening packages in Singapore ranging from truly affordable to unnecessarily extravagant. We uncover some surprising truths about how much health screenings cost in Singapore.
The importance of health screenings
According to Mount Alvernia Hospital, medical check-ups are important because it helps you to find out if you have any underlying health conditions that you may not be aware of.
Early detection, followed by treatment and good control of the condition can result in better outcomes and lowers the risk of serious complications. Certain chronic diseases such as diabetes take time to develop and, if detected early, can be better managed with fewer complications and improved long-term outcomes.
One example is cancer. Cancer starts small and by the time a patient feels pain, bloated or an obvious lump, the cancer may already be at an advanced stage and it may be too late.
How often should you go for health screening?
Many factors come into play with the regularity of your health screenings, depending on your age, health risk, as well as gender.
The general rule of thumb is to have a full body check-up once every year. Having no health conditions found at your last screening does not mean that there are no issues presently.
Some diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes mellitus and cancer are more likely to develop with age and may come suddenly. Doing regular health screening is important as early detection is necessary to nip the problem in the bud.
If you’re 18 and above, it’s time for yearly medical check-ups
A health screening is recommended to anyone and everyone aged 18 and above. Here are the suggested screening tests by age:
Individuals aged 18 and above
Screening test: Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference
Frequency: Once a year
Hypertension (High blood pressure)
Screening test: Blood pressure measurement
Frequency: Once every two years or more frequently as advised by your doctor
Individuals aged 40 and above
Screening test: Fasting blood glucose, HbA1c
Frequency: Once every three years or more frequently as advised by your doctor
Hyperlipidaemia (High blood cholesterol)
Screening test: Fasting lipids, non-fasting lipids
Frequency: Once every three years or more frequently as advised by your doctor
Individuals aged 50 and above
Screening test: Faecal Immunochemical Test (to test for blood in stools) or colonoscopy
Frequency: Once a year for Faecal Immunochemical Test and once every 10 years for colonoscopy
Women aged 25 to 69 years, who have had sexual intercourse
Screening test: Pap test (for 25 to 29 years old)
Frequency: Once every three years
Screening test: HPV test (for 30 years old and above)
Frequency: Once every five years
Women aged 50 to 69 years
Screening test: Mammogram
Frequency: Once every two years
Other types of health screening available in Singapore
Generally speaking, health screenings can be grouped into two types — standalone health screenings that attempt to create a snapshot of a person’s overall health, and medical procedures to screen for specific conditions.
Standalone health screenings are offered in many levels — from a basic health check involving a few factors to comprehensive events that cover more ground and utilise more tests and procedures. Needless to say, the more involved the screening, the costlier the package tends to be.
On the other hand, if you or your healthcare provider wants to focus on a specific condition, you may then undergo a specialised health screening that offers a more in-depth look.
What happens during your health screening?
At its very basic, you will undergo these procedures during your health check-up in Singapore:
- A medical health assessment by a qualified physician to discuss potential risks arising from medical history and lifestyle.
- A physical examination that includes taking your height, weight, BMI and testing your vision
- A blood glucose test to ascertain risk of diabetes, which is performed after fasting
- A blood cholesterol test to check for unhealthy cholesterol levels associated heart disease risks
Typical health screening packages go further than the four basis tests above. This is purely with the aim of giving your healthcare provider a more complete picture of your health status. As such, you may encounter additional tests and procedures such as:
- A blood pressure test to check for healthy blood pressure levels
- An ECG (electrocardiogram) to determine if your hearty activity is normal and to detect certain heart conditions
- A full blood count to determine if you suffer from anemia
- A urine analysis to determine proper kidney function
- A chest X-ray to check for lung problems
How long does health screening take?
Basic four tests will take around two hours while a comprehensive, full body check-up can take up to four hours.
As every individual is different and the tests required would depend on your personal needs, there is no specific number of tests in a full body check-up and it really depends on which package you select based on your needs.
Where can I go for a health screening?
With Singapore’s highly developed medical services market, it is no surprise that there are plenty of options available to those looking for a health check-up. Generally speaking, there are four channels you can look towards, depending on your needs:
- Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) General Practitioner (GP) clinics
- Private clinics
- Public hospitals
- Private hospitals
How much do health screenings cost at Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) General Practitioner (GP) clinics?
|Cardholder||Cost of Screen For Life at CHAS GP clinics|
|Pioneer Generation (age 71 in 2020)||Free|
|Merdeka Generation (age 61 in 2020)||S$2|
|Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Blue or Orange||S$2|
|Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Green + Eligible Singaporean Citizens||S$5|
When discussing health screenings, CHAS GP clinics may spring to mind probably because you’re remembering them for that S$5 health checkup campaign that ran not too long ago. Yes, the same Health Promotion Board’s Screen for Life Programme that makes available health screening to eligible Singaporeans for under S$5. However, these are for certain conditions only, and are performed according to your age and gender.
Here’s what the Screen for Life Programme specifically covers:
|Age At Screening||Type of Screening||Frequency|
|Above age 25 (women only)||Cervical cancer||Three years from your last screening date|
|Above age 40||High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, cervical cancer (women only)||Three years from your last screening date|
|Above age 50||High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer||One year from your last screening date|
CHAS GP clinics in Singapore do not offer comprehensive health checks. However, you may request screening for specific conditions.
How much do health screenings cost at private clinics?
|Name of Clinic||Health Screening Packages And Cost|
|Central Clinic||Basic: S$48|
|Sata Commhealth||Lite: S$275|
Elite Male: S$563
Elite Female: S$708
|Fullerton Health||Premium: S$468|
|Lifescan Medical Centre||General: S$180|
Advanced: From S$608
|Healthway Medical||Classic: S$350|
Private clinics are another viable source for getting a health screen done, not least because of the very attractive rates some packages are priced at. You can have a full health screen done for as little as S$48, although it appears a price range of around S$200 to S$350 is more typical.
Some clinics may also be perceived to offer a more personal and supportive environment compared to, say, a busy hospital.
Health screening packages for women cost significantly more at at least one clinic, and the more comprehensive the screening (which usually involves more tests), the higher the cost of the package.
If you’re confused as to which package to pick, it’s best to talk to your doctor, who will make recommendations according to your needs and expectations.
How much do health screenings cost at public hospitals?
|Name of Public Hospital||Health Screening Packages And Cost|
|Ng Teng Fong Hospital||Essential: S$88|
Enhanced A (Female): S$178
Enhanced B: S$98
Optional add-ons available
|Tan Tock Seng||Core: S$200|
High Cholesterol: S$380
High Blood Pressure: S$450
Liver Screen for Hep B: S$500
High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Cholesterol: S$530
|National University Hospital||Basic: S$260|
High Cholesterol: S$310
High Blood Pressure: S$360
High Blood Glucose: S$370
Hep B: S$530
Chronic Disease Management: S$420
|Changi General Hospital||Core: S$360|
Core 50: S$380
With an array of services under one roof, hospitals in Singapore can offer a one-stop health screening service. Public hospitals cater to different patient needs by offering screening packages focused on addressing specific conditions.
Once again, we see health screen packages varying widely in price and type, but you can get a basic health screening at a public hospital starting from S$88.
Note: some of the packages by public hospitals are competitively priced with those offered at private clinics. Singapore General Hospital does not publish prices — call to enquire. KK Hospital does not offer health screening packages anymore.
How much do health screenings cost at private hospitals?
|Name of Private Hospital||Health Screening Packages And Cost|
|Raffles Medical Group||Basic: S$74.90|
General: S$151.90 (without Pap Smear)/ S$169.05 (with Pap Smear)
Optional add-ons available
|Mount Alvernia Hospital||Basic 250: S$267.50|
Specialised screenings available
|Farrer Park Hospital||Regular: S$350|
Select Plus: S$790
Pre-marital: S$299 (S$499/couple)
|Parkway East Hospital||Classic:(M/F) S$468/S$498|
Private hospitals in Singapore have a reputation for providing top-class medical care but at heart-stopping price ranges (but of course). So it was a pleasant surprise to see at least two private hospitals offering medical screening packages that are competitively priced.
We also found tearing up-worthy expensive health screenings, costing the equivalent of a week-long family vacation! Of course, not being medical experts, we cannot comment on the necessity or importance of these super-high-end options. But at these prices, we’re sure we’d come out feeling more than a little faint.
While some screenings may be budget-friendly, treatment costs are likely to be another thing altogether, especially given the hospitals’ private entity status.
Do polyclinics offer health screenings?
Unfortunately, no. Polyclinics do not offer comprehensive health screenings but rather, they provide health screenings for specific diseases (e.g: diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol). You can request to get screenings for the specific diseases if you are more prone to due to your genetics or lifestyle.
The cheapest health screening in Singapore
As you can see, there is a wide range of health screenings options that vary greatly in coverage and price. Furthermore, private clinics aren’t necessarily more expensive. Case in point: Raffles Medical Group’s S$78 basic package versus Ng Teng Fong’s S$88 Essentials package.
If you are looking for a basic and cheap package, Central Clinic is one of the cheapest clinics in Singapore offering health check-up service, with their basic package going at S$48. This package includes screening for cholesterol, diabetes, gout, kidney function, liver function and a urine test. However, it is important to note that this package is meant for the general public. If you are someone with a higher risk of contracting diseases due to your genetics or lifestyle, you need to do your own due diligence and check out the types of screenings suitable for you.
As you can guess, the more tests in the package the more expensive it will be. If you are still young and healthy, you have the luxury of opting for the cheaper and less comprehensive package and add on specialised tests if needed.
Your best bet is to consult your regular doctor who knows your medical history so that you can make a more informed decision.
Way to make your health screenings cost cheaper
There are a few options you can look at to help bring down the cost of your medical screenings, such as Medisave, insurance and credit cards.
Can Medisave be used for health screening?
Unfortunately, while Medisave can come in handy for a wide number of conditions, you cannot use that to pay for a standalone health screening. This is because Medisave is restricted to specific procedures, each coming with an annual cap.
However, it may be possible to use your Medisave to pay for the procedures you need (such as a colonoscopy or mammogram) as part of routine screening in the course of managing your condition.
Are health screenings covered by insurance plans?
For the majority of Singaporeanes, our health insurance plans come in the form of Medishield Life, or Medishield Life with an Integrated Shield Plan. These plans are meant to provide cover when treatment becomes necessary, and they do not cover standalone health screenings.
However, there are certain specialised health insurance plans by private brokers that include regular health screenings as part of the package. If you’re interested, be sure to carefully check what the health screening covers — to see if it suits your needs.
Which are the best credit cards to pay my health screening bills?
There’s no denying that health screenings can set you back by a few hundred dollars, so choose your cards carefully.
When it comes to big ticket purchases, air miles cards are always a great option. Try using the UOB PRVI Miles Card to earn 1.4 miles per S$1 on your health screenings. Another card you can try is the Citi PremierMiles Card, which gives you 1.2 miles per S$1.
Another way credit cards can help you with your health screening is via the 0% instalment payment plan, which splits up your bill over several fixed monthly payments — commonly 12 or 24 months. This can help you afford more comprehensive screenings which are often more expensive.
Do bear in mind that not all banks award credit card perks on medical transactions. Some clinics or hospitals may not offer instalment payment plans. To be sure, it’s always best to check with your bank and/or clinic or hospital beforehand.
Preparing for your health screening — Do’s and Don’ts
Do’s before your health screening
- Prepare and bring any past medical reports, scans results and medication
- Fasting for eight hours before your health screening appointment is required specifically for your blood tests, ultrasound abdomen and ultrasound liver
- Delay your routine morning medication and/or supplements until your blood sample is taken
- Bring additional change of clothes should you be taking a treadmill test
- For the ladies, make sure your last day of menstruation is five to seven days before your pap smear, urine and stool tests
Don’ts before your health screening
- Do not consume food starting from 12 midnight on the day of your appointment. However, drinking of plain water is permissible up to the morning of screening
- Do not ingest medications such as beta-blockers (e.g. propranolol or atenolol) three days before your test date
- For the ladies, do not wear any deodorant, perfume, powder or cream under your arms or chest area as it may interfere with the quality of the mammogram
It’s best that you check with your doctor on the full list of preparations that you need to adhere to before your full body check-up.
What to do after a health screening
If your doctor has given you a clean bill of health, congratulations! Don’t forget to schedule your appointment for the next year.
If you happen to have an issue after your screening, immediately do a follow-up with your doctor and figure out the next steps. Do not wait any longer.
Again, regular screening even if you’re feeling healthy is important so that you can take control of your condition early should problems unexpectedly arise.
Conclusion: Are health screenings worth it?
Yes, health screenings are crucial. If you have yet to go for a full body health check-up, be sure to schedule a day to do so. Who knows, a single screening might just save your life.
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By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.