Crucial information on insurance for foreign workers in Singapore or Singapore-based companies employing foreign workers.
Singapore is among the world’s developed countries that attract foreign talents due to the incredible benefits. Over the years, the medical costs in Singapore have been on the rise, and you must have proper medical insurance when moving to Singapore as an employee. Even if your employer is arranging for your coverage, specific requirements must be fulfilled.
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), each employer is liable for buying medical insurance for each foreign employee they hire. There are requirements on what type of insurance you need and what it covers.
While most employers take care of the medical insurance for their foreign employees, all foreign workers should understand how the medical insurance system works.
We’ll take you through the requirements for foreign workers' medical insurance in Singapore, the steps involved before the issuing of the work permit, and all the details you should know as a foreign employee.
What are the requirements for foreign workers' medical insurance?
As earlier mentioned, every employer is mandated by law to buy a medical insurance plan for their foreign workers. It’s worth noting that medical insurance for foreign employees in Singapore must be settled before a work permit is issued.
What must the foreign workers' medical insurance cover?
Employers should purchase and maintain medical insurance cover of not less than S$15,000 per annum for work permit holders.
However, employers do not need to buy insurance for holders of dependent passes with a medical insurance plan that meets the minimum coverage of S$15,000 per annum.
Additionally, the medical insurance plan should cover the full duration of the work permit validity.
The plan should cover medical bills relating to day surgery and inpatient care, and treatment for other conditions that are not work-related.
Also, employers can provide a co-pay arrangement for the work permit holders if the following conditions are met:
- The co-pay duration should not exceed 6 months.
- The co-pay amount should be a reasonable amount that should not exceed 10% of the worker’s monthly salary.
- It should be within the collective agreement or the employment contract and has the worker’s consent.
Workers should know that their employers should not transfer the cost of buying the medical insurance cover to them.
Submitting the insurance details online
It is a requirement that employers submit the medical insurance details online before requesting an issue of the work permit or renewal. The documents can be submitted by logging into the WP Online page.
The following up-to-date details should be provided:
- The insurer’s name
- The policy number for the insurance
- The commencement date for the insurance policy
- The expiry date of the insurance policy
Features employers should look for in a good medical insurance
Employers should look out for the following features when purchasing medical insurance covers for their foreign employees:
- Minimum claimable amount
The minimum claimable limit set by MOM is S$15,000 per policy year. However, insurers may offer superior plans with higher claim limits that may be worth considering.
- Worker’s pre-existing conditions
Good medical insurance should cover the worker’s pre-existing medical conditions. This should be included in the plan at inception. However, most insurers will delay up to 12 months to cover the pre-existing conditions in the basic plan.
- Outside country hospitalisation benefits
Medical treatments relating to work: The plan should cover medical treatments relating to work in Singapore and abroad when an employee travels for work duties. This is usually part of most plans.
Medical treatments for non-work-related conditions: Most insurers provide insurance cover for non-work-related treatment in Singapore. However, some may provide coverage for non-work-related medical treatment overseas in an emergency as well.
- Outpatient treatment
Most medical insurance policies cover treatment performed in hospitals. However, some will cover both outpatient and inpatient treatment, with some co-payment and a higher premium. Medical insurance policies for foreign workers should preferably include outpatient therapies.
- Mortal remains repatriation
In the case of an unfortunate passing away of a foreign worker due to an accident or illness, insurance policies can cover the repatriation of remains back to their home.
Can medical insurance plans with sub-limits meet MOM’s requirements?
Medical insurance plans with sub-limits on such aspects as day surgery, inpatient care, or per disability, can still meet the MOM requirements if each sub-limit is equal to the minimum claimable amount of $15,000 per annum.
Also, where sub-limits for day surgery and inpatient are lacking, there should be a minimum total coverage of S$15,000 for both categories collectively to meet MOM’s requirements. This means that foreign workers can claim up to $15,000 for inpatient care if they do not incur day surgery expenses during the policy year.
What is the penalty for non-adherence to medical insurance requirements?
Any employer who fails to meet the required medical insurance for immigrant workers can be jailed for 12 months or fined up to S$10,000 or both. Also, they can be barred from hiring foreign workers.
Can an employer be exempted from buying foreign workers’ medical insurance?
No, every employer must purchase and renew foreign workers’ medical insurance for S Pass and Work Permit holders. Therefore, if you are such an employee, always ensure that your employer provides you with medical insurance.
How is the foreign workers’ medical insurance unique from other insurance requirements?
The foreign workers' medical insurance requirements mandate the coverage of medical expenses and hospital bills for all treatments, including the non-work related.
It serves a different purpose from other employer-paid insurance requirements such as:
- Migrant domestic workers’ additional personal accident insurance, including permanent disablement and accidental death, of at least S$60,000.
- Compensation for a work injury. Such insurance provides compensation for work-related injuries and medical expenses to both migrant and local workers.
As you have seen, each employer should provide medical insurance cover to their foreign employee. MOM’s requirements must be fulfilled before the ministry will issue the work permit and grant in-principle approval.
Foreign workers’ medical insurance comes with countless benefits, including the coverage of medical expenses for work-related and non-work-related accidents. Workers can sue negligent employers who do not provide the necessary medical insurance cover.
Protect yourself and your migrant domestic workers against accidents and unforeseen incidents with appropriate coverage. Compare and apply for these best personal accident insurance plans.
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