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International vs Local Health Insurance: What to choose?

Having health insurance is the best way to protect your employees against unforeseen healthcare costs. The price of medical services has increased significantly. The surge in price has made it difficult for the masses to afford medical services without any monetary aid. Today more than ever in Singapore it is important to have health insurance coverage for your company and even for your family. 

A good corporate health insurance plan provides a safety net for your employees: if they get sick or injured it will cover their medical expenses and protect their finances. For any employer who wants to be competitive in today's job market, offering a benefit like this is important and may even offer some advantages over competitors who do not provide this benefit. 

There are two major types of insurance to consider, International and Local. It is a common dilemma for individuals and companies alike, which insurance to choose. 

The answer to this question depends on what your company does, how it operates, and the workforce demographics. If your employees are distributed globally or require to travel to other countries often then international policies are an excellent choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for a cost-effective policy that gives coverage in your area of operation then local insurances will be the right choice.

What are the differences between International & Local health insurance?

International health insurance is different from local health insurance as it covers you for medical care and hospitalization in any country depending on the purchased coverage. Employees are free to go to any hospital or General Practitioner worldwide or within the regions of the plan and will be refunded. For example, if foreign employees want to be hospitalized in their home countries, that is allowed within an international health coverage. Most international health insurance allows you to choose the region of coverage. Usually, international insurances come with a higher limit of medical coverage than local health insurances. 

A local health insurance plan will cover you for medical care in the country of purchase, so it has comparatively lower premiums but also lower coverage. To compare the offerings in detail it is important to dive deeper into the healthcare ecosystem of Singapore. The whole healthcare system can be broadly divided into two categories, public and private.

  1. Public healthcare is affordable and is subsidized by the Government for Singaporeans however it is often associated with high wait times and big lines. 
  2. Private healthcare, on the other hand, allows for quick response times but is very costly. 

International health insurance plans will include private healthcare in their offerings. On the other hand, depending on the selected option a local health insurance plan might include private hospitals or might be limited to only public hospitals.

How much does international health insurance cost? 

International health insurance comes with a higher premium as compared with local health insurance however, it also brings better coverage. High competition in international health insurance providers results in competitive pricing. It is also possible to customize regions covered by international health insurance to reduce costs. For example: due to high medical costs in the United States excluding the country from the coverage list results in huge discounts. 

Another key factor to consider is insurance's annual limit. It is obvious that without insurance the medical bill rapidly becomes unaffordable. This is especially true in Singapore where medical bills for simple appendix surgery with overnight hospitalization can range from $10,000 and above. We have listed for you a detailed breakdown of the medical and hospitalization cost in Singapore in an earlier article.

Due to the excessive costs, the annual healthcare expenses can get skewed in an event of medical emergencies. To account for such cases, it is important to consider the annual limit of your insurance plan. Local insurance plans have a lower annual limit of $600,000 to $1.2 Million. On the other hand, international insurances will give you a limit of $1 Million to $4.5 Million.

To summarise, international health insurances come with higher annual limits so that you can rest assured that your medical bills will be kept within your budget.

When to choose international health insurance? 

Hospitalized abroad can exceed the cost of a year’s worth of premiums for many healthcare systems. The average price of hospitalization abroad ranges across countries from $5,000 to $100,000 or more. The right international health insurance plan will allow you to visit any doctor or hospital in the world. And, they also cover international emergencies and repatriation. 

As a result of emergency medical coverage, those traveling internationally can get the care they need and be reimbursed for their expenses. In this way, there is no need to worry about medical bills while on vacation or studying abroad.  

A good international health insurance plan will provide a wide range of benefits. These include access to world-class medical care, emergency assistance, and repatriation services in over 100 countries around the world.  

Thus, it is crucial to have an international health insurance plan, especially if your company belongs to one of the following categories:  

  1. Companies with Employees spending a considerable part of a year living abroad  
  2. Employees who work in different countries  
  3. Companies that regularly send employees abroad for training or sales purposes  
  4. Large multinational corporations with offices around the world  
  5. Companies with a lot of subsidiaries regionally or globally  

On the contrary, if your workforce is concentrated locally and does not need to travel outside the country then Local health insurance will be a better option. Singaporeans enjoy a subsidized rate for Local health insurance. This means that the premiums of local health insurance are low compared to international premiums.  

What is covered under international health insurance? 

Insurance providers offer multiple options to customize your plan. While the range of options varies from provider to provider, the following are a set of benefits that you should consider for your international health plan. 

Benefit Description

In-Patient treatment 

Includes hospitalization accommodation, prescribed drugs, surgical fees, therapist fees, organ transplant, Surgical appliances and prostheses, intensive care room, ambulance cost, and Emergency in-patient dental treatment 

Out-Patient treatment 

Includes consultations with a doctor, diagnostic tests, physiotherapy, vaccinations, drugs, and more. 

Dental care 

Covers both routine dental treatment and other major dental treatment 

Cover while traveling 

Covers situation like lost luggage, cancellations, etc. 

Second opinion service 

Allows full review of treatment plan or diagnosis 

Medical evacuation and repatriation 

Includes evacuation to the nearest appropriate medical center in an event of unavailability of necessary treatment or other applicable situations. 

Chronic conditions 

Includes coverage for chronic diseases and conditions 

Eye tests and prescription glasses 

Covers eye tests along with required prescription glasses or contact lenses 

Maternity Routine cover 

Includes routine checkups during pregnancy as well as childbirth 

Cancer treatment 

Covers a wide range of cancer treatment including post-diagnosis chemotherapy or radiotherapy 

How to buy international health insurance? 

When it comes to health insurance, ideally you would want a company that deals exclusively in this field so you can take advantage of better prices & benefits. BLACAZ. is a global insurance provider specializing in corporate insurances. 

BLACAZ. employs a panel of experts in most fields who can help you choose the best option. With BLACAZ. you get the best customer support enhanced by our completely digital buying experience which can help you buy corporate health insurance in 7 minutes in a seamless and paperless manner. Want more, our HR portal allows you to store all your insurance documents digitally for future reference giving you complete freedom from paperwork. 

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