Retirement is a sensitive topic in Singapore. Lots of people, disheartened by the sight of wizened people working in menial jobs, assume that this is a country where people just don’t “do” retirement. The irony is that many middle income Singaporeans would actually be able to retire at a decent age if they could just curb their spending.
Other than having a realistic view of whether you can really afford those designer bags or that fancy car, one huge way Singaporeans can limit the amount of money they’ll spend as retirees is to lower their healthcare costs. Singaporeans’ biggest retirement fear is healthcare costs. Even if you feel like Superman now, you can almost certainly expect your healthcare expenditure to rise as you get older. Here are some ways you can invest in your health now so as to lower retirement spending later:
Stay healthy when you’re young
You may not realise it as a strapping young person, but in your 30s to 50s, your health deteriorates a whole lot if you don’t make a conscious effort to stay active and not poison your body too much.
As a child, touching your toes, swinging from monkey bars or even just sitting on your knees and shins was a piece of cake. But I have many friends in their 20s and 30s who can’t even do any of the above anymore. They spent 5-10 years sitting in front of a computer all day long and one day realised their body had lost a whole lot of mobility.
If you’re eating fastfood or hawker food every day but feel smug about the fact that you never seem to gain weight, you should know that diabetes and kidney failure rates in Singapore are soaring. While obesity does increase your risk, so do a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.
Many young Singaporeans dedicate the first few decades of their adult lives to work, assuming that they can take care of their health when they’re older. By then the damage will have been done, and you don’t want to discover when you’re on the cusp of retirement that your healthcare costs have increased beyond your wildest dreams.
Get the right medical insurance
Depsite the recent changes to the public healthcare insurance system and the inception of the new Medishield Life, if you are serious about obtaining adequate healthcare coverage you should definitely look into getting a private health insurance policy to supplement Medishield.
Medishield Life is designed to provide a bare minimum for health insurance, but there is a co-payment portion for big hospital bills, meaning you’ll still have to fork out a portion of cash on your own—bad news if you’re no longer working. In addition, you can only claim $100,000 a year, which frankly speaking it is possible to exhaust if you’re seriously and chronically ill.
We repeat, despite the changes in the Medishield system, it’s still highly advisable to get private health insurance. If you don’t already have one, you need one—compare plans right here on MoneySmart.
Go for regular checkups
I’m going to be honest here and say I’ve never gone for a full medical checkup, and the last dental checkup I went for came after a lapse of 8 years. If I drop dead tomorrow, let this be a lesson to you all.
Seriously though, you’ve got to strike a balance between spending all your spare cash on checkups and leaving your health at risk. Generally, the number and types of health screenings it’s prudent to go for increase as you get older, and it is highly advisable to at least be cognisant of which ones you should be going for and when.
While you’re still gainfully employed, max out on the healthcare benefits your employer offers to go for regular health screenings. There are also subsidised health screenings for Health Assist cardholders, so see if you qualify.
Remember, just because you don’t feel there’s anything wrong with you doesn’t mean there really isn’t. And catching a medical condition too late could cost you your retirement.
What steps are you taking to lower your healthcare costs when you retire? Tell us in the comments!