Wondering if pre-existing condition insurance exists in Singapore? Read on to find out why you should get your health insurance sorted when you’re young, and what your options are.
Pre-existing conditions can be huge, expensive roadblocks for those looking to ensure they have sufficient health insurance coverage. After all, medical costs in Singapore will only rise as we get older and health insurance is one of the key pillars of financial protection everyone should have, regardless of their age or profession.
In any case, it is ideal that you get your health insurance sorted when you’re young and have a clean bill of health to boot.
Without pre-existing medical conditions at the point of purchase, you can be sure you can get the most comprehensive coverage for yourself the less stressful and inexpensive way.
For starters, there’s no chance the insurer can exclude coverage on certain medical conditions (if you do not have any), make you pay a higher premium through premium loading, impose a lower limit on claims, or in the worst case scenario, reject your application.
- What are pre-existing conditions?
- How are pre-existing conditions determined?
- Pre-existing health conditions that affect insurability
- Pre-existing condition insurance options in Singapore
What are pre-existing conditions?
According to the Life Insurance Association of Singapore, pre-existing conditions can vary from policy to policy, but they include any illness or disability that you have — or have had — at the time when you sign up for the health insurance policy.
It is very common for insurers to exclude coverage on pre-existing medical conditions or any other conditions that are related. Even if you can purchase the health insurance policy, it is likely you won’t be reimbursed for any or all care-related claims due to your pre-existing condition(s).
In general, pre-existing conditions are long-term and/or chronic in nature. Common pre-existing health conditions include high blood pressure, cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, asthma and past injuries.
How are pre-existing conditions determined?
Insurers will require you to disclose any pre-existing condition you may have. You need to be fully transparent with the insurer at the time of application for the insurer to decide on the next course of action, such as whether or not to fully cover that health condition and how much your premiums should be, slap you with premium loading or outright reject you. For non-disclosures, the insurer could terminate the policy and reject all claims.
Go through these questions to figure out if you have a pre-existing health condition:
- Have you been diagnosed with anything before applying for the policy?
- Have you been treated or advised to be treated for anything before applying for the policy?
- Have you been given medication or advised to have medication for anything before applying for the policy?
- Have you been hospitalized or advised to be hospitalised for anything before applying for the policy?
- Have you had any symptoms before applying for the policy?
- Have you had anything that has a strong medical indication that it originated before applying for the policy (e.g. the size of a tumor or stage of cancer)?
Pre-existing health conditions that affect your insurability
#1 Sleep apnea
Apart from raising your risk of high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea might also increase your risk of stroke, irregular heartbeats such as atrial fibrillation, heart attacks and heart failure.
Although sleep apnea can be better managed with CPAP machines and lifestyle changes, this health condition will affect your insurability if you’re looking to purchase health insurance policies after being diagnosed.
Truth: Xiao Ming’s sleep apnea diagnosis rendered him almost uninsurable. He was either rejected or slapped with a huge loading of premiums whenever he wanted a quotation to supplement his existing insurance protection policies.
#2 Clinically diagnosed depression
While insurers are increasingly offering mental health insurance plans that help to defray costs associated with the diagnosis and treatment of mental health illnesses, clinically diagnosed depression will render one uninsurable for the most part.
Often, a long-term mental health condition requires ongoing treatment and care. Insurers are unlikely to extend coverage to those suffering from clinically diagnosed depression, or even those who were suffering from the condition during a specified period of time (could even be years!) before they sign up for a new health insurance plan.
As unfortunate and difficult as it may be, there's a higher tendency for self-harm when it comes to victims of depression. Also, the drugs used to manage depression might cause consequential health issues.
If you or your loved ones are battling the blues and need someone professional to talk to, here are the free counselling services in Singapore to know about. Helplines are available, too.
Asthma is one of those pre-existing conditions that can affect your insurability. According to studies, folks with active asthma have a significantly higher risk of chronic lung diseases later in life.
Researchers found that asthma sufferers are 17X more likely to be diagnosed with emphysema and 10X more likely to develop chronic bronchitis symptoms in comparison to adults without asthma. Severe asthma might even lead to respiratory failure and death.
What about childhood asthma? Insurers may impose premium loading if they choose to extend coverage to you. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask your insurance agent to back you up — some insurers may relent and not load the premium!
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition where the body develops a resistance to insulin; it is a result of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, with obesity being the largest contributor to the development of this health disease. On the other hand, Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition that causes the body to produce little to no insulin.
Diabetes can lead to an array of health complications such as blindness, arterial disease, nerve damage, kidney failure, foot disease, plus various cardiovascular problems like heart attack, stroke, angina. High blood sugar levels can also lead to multi-organ complications.
It is no wonder that if you have diabetes as a pre-existing condition, your insurer may not cover this condition. However, there are insurance plans on the market tailored for those suffering from diabetes (more on that below).
Did you know cancer is the top cause of death in Singapore compared to other diseases? It is common for insurers to exclude coverage on cancer if the individual has ever had a brush with cancer before. This rings true especially for those who’ve experienced a recurrence after recovering from one bout of the illness.
That said, there are insurance plans that allow recovered cancer patients to insure themselves against recurrent cancer. AXA Cancer ReCover is one such plan.
Take note that some insurers also consider cancer as a pre-existing health condition/ premium loading factor if the individual has a family history of cancer! Before you sign up for a new health insurance plan, definitely take the time to clarify all these little fine print with your insurance agent.
Pre-existing condition insurance options in Singapore
You may consider policies with moratorium underwriting e.g. AXA GlobalCare. Instead of making the usual health declarations, AXA will offer you coverage for your pre-existing conditions — upon a waiting period of nine months to two years depending on the selected plan — if you do not require any treatment, medication, or experience any symptom linked to your pre-existing condition(s).
Singlife MyShield is an integrated shield plan for your consideration as it offers a choice for full underwriting or moratorium underwriting. The moratorium underwriting option provides you with the opportunity to cover minor pre-existing conditions.
Other than the above-mentioned, there are also insurance policies that cover chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes.
Here’s a quick look at what these insurance plans as well as the pre-existing conditions accepted for an application. Do, however, take note of the terms for the waiting period and survival period of each policy!
|Insurance plan||What it is & what conditions are accepted|
|Singlife MyCore CI Plan II||Critical Illness Plan: Type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high Body Mass Index (BMI)|
|AIA Diabetes Care||Critical Illness Plan: Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 diabetes|
|Manulife Critical Select Care||Critical Illness Plan: High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol or diabetes|
|Raffles Shield by Raffles Health Insurance||Integrated Shield Plan: Diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol issues, if within acceptable levels. Life insured must be enrolled in a chronic disease management programme offered by RHI or the government|
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