Health Insurance

With So Many Integrated Shield Plans Available, How Do You Decide Which to Choose?

Clara Lim

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All Singaporeans are covered by MediShield Life for the most basic of medical coverage. But on top of MediShield Life, an estimated two-thirds of Singaporeans are also paying for an integrated shield plan (IP) from one of 7 private insurers:

  • AIA Healthshield Gold Max
  • Aviva MyShield
  • AXA Shield
  • Great Eastern Supreme Health
  • NTUC IncomeShield
  • Prudential PruShield
  • Raffles Shield

Each insurer offers a few options for their integrated shield plans, which means Singaporeans looking for an IP will have over 25 options to choose from. That sounds daunting, but making your decision is actually easier than it seems.

You only need to have a faint idea of what level of coverage you want, and the rest of it is mainly just crunching numbers. Easier than deciding which bubble tea you want at Gong Cha.

Ready to compare the heck out of Integrated Shield plans? Let’s go.

 

Contents

  1. Step 1: Understand the limits of MediShield Life
  2. Step 2: Choose the coverage level you want
  3. Step 3: Know what to look for in an Integrated Shield plan
  4. Integrated Shield comparison 2019: Public hospital Class B1 IPs
  5. Integrated Shield comparison 2019: Public hospital Class A IPs
  6. Integrated Shield comparison 2019: Private hospital IPs

 

Step 1: Know the limits of MediShield Life

We’ve established that all Singaporeans are covered with health insurance: MediShield Life. (If you didn’t know this, you definitely need to read this comprehensive guide to health insurance in Singapore!)

Instead of buying an Integrated Shield plan because your insurance agent friend told you to, it’s worth checking out what MediShield Life covers so you know WHY you want to get an IP.

Being government-issued health insurance, MediShield Life is very affordable, but it’s as basic as it gets. Which means it has some very serious limitations.

Covers only the lower wards: MediShield Life is sufficient to cover the essential costs if you’re hospitalised, but only if you stay in a Class B2 or C ward. That’s not to say that you can’t stay in a better ward, but it means you need to top up the difference out of Medisave or your pocket.

Surgery coverage capped at $2,000: MediShield Life covers surgeries, but only up to $2,000. That’s not very helpful if you need to go for a $6,000 operation – you’ll need to top up the rest.

No pre-/post-hospitalisation treatment coverage: MediShield Life does not cover pre- and post-hospitalisation treatment, which in many cases may end up costing more than any surgery. Just think of how long it takes to recover from a major illness or accident – all that is not covered!

You can refer to the Ministry of Health’s health insurance page for full details of what MediShield Life covers (under Basic Plans).

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Step 2: Choose the coverage (i.e. ward class) you want

If you felt underwhelmed by the coverage offered by MediShield Life, take this opportunity to figure out what standard of healthcare you want to receive (at minimum) should you fall ill or get into an accident. 

Are you okay with going to a public hospital, as long as you get into a “better” B1 ward? Or you die-die must go to a private hospital for the best healthcare possible?

Helpfully, the Ministry of Health has grouped all the Integrated Shield plans in Singapore into 5 tiers of coverage:

  • Basic (B2/C ward) – equivalent or just slightly better than MediShield Life
  • Standard (B1 ward) – coverage falls somewhere in between Basic and Class B1
  • Class B1 – coverage for treatment in public hospital B1 wards
  • Class A – coverage for treatment in public hospital A wards
  • Private hospital – coverage for treatment in private hospitals

Though the nitty-gritty details of each plan is different, you can be assured that different IPs in each category offer similar levels of coverage, sufficient to cover the ward class indicated.

In the Integrated Shield plan comparisons below, I’m going to focus only on Class B1 IPs and above, because if you’re considering an IP, you’re most likely looking to boost your MediShield Life sufficiently to afford a better ward class than B2/C.

Here are the 19 Integrated Shield plans I’ll be comparing. (Note that there’s no standardisation of IP names, which is a real pain in the ass.)

Integrated Shield insurer Class B1 Class A Private hospital
AIA Healthshield Gold Max B Lite B A
Aviva MyShield Plan 3 Plan 2 Plan 1
AXA Shield Plan B Plan A
Great Eastern Supreme Health B Plus A Plus P Plus
NTUC IncomeShield Basic Advantage Preferred
Prudential PruShield Plus Premier
Raffles Shield B A Private

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Step 3: Know what to look for in an Integrated Shield plan

Don’t worry, you won’t have to look through the ENTIRE policy documents of every Integrated Shield plan unless you’re a masochist.

There are actually just 3 things you need to look out for when making your choice:

  • Price of premiums
  • Pre- and post-hospitalisation coverage
  • Annual coverage limit

Let’s unpack these a little.

Price of premiums: The IP premiums quoted here are all lump sums (i.e. they include both the MediShield Life portion + the private insurer portion). You can use Medisave to pay your IP premiums, but this is subject to CPF withdrawal limits.

But IP premiums go up with age, so there will come a time when you need to pay for your IP premium with cash when the withdrawal limit cannot cover it all. Check how steeply the premium rises when you age into the next tier.

Pre- and post-hospitalisation coverage: While it is important for health insurance to cover expensive hospitalisation costs, it is often pre-hospitalisation (e.g. diagnosis, early stage treatments) and post-hospitalisation (e.g. recovery) that may end up costing more than any amount of surgery.

All integrated shield plans cover you for pre-hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation treatment “as charged”. “As charged” means there is no limit on claims for eligible expenses. However, the actual length of cover differs.

Annual coverage limit: A good integrated shield plan will cover most of your medical bills, but be careful about the annual coverage limit. This refers to how much you can claim up to each year before the insurer stops footing your bills.

Unlike things like vacations, you can’t decide how many times you’ll be falling sick each year. So choose wisely – the last thing you want is to exceed this limit and end up paying out of your pocket.

3 things to considerwhen you choose an IPWhat’s an IP?Integrated Shield Plan (IP)Covering you beyond just the hospitalisation, IPs cover youfinancially before and after hospitalisation.Coverage lengthDays covered Pre /Post-hospitalisationCoverage limitAmount claimableannuallyIP premiumsPremiums paid annually

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Integrated Shield comparison 2019: Public hospital Class B1 IPs

Now let’s start crunching some numbers. Here’s a comparison of the 5 Class B1 Integrated Shield plans:

Integrated Shield plan Annual premium* Pre-hospitalisation cover Post-hospitalisation cover Annual coverage limit
AIA Healthshield Gold Max B Lite $412 100 days 100 days $300,000
Aviva MyShield Plan 3 $410 90 days 180 days (public hospital / panel specialist) $300,000
Great Eastern Supreme Health B Plus $380 120 days 120 days $500,000
NTUC IncomeShield Basic $381 to $391 90 days (total) $250,000
Raffles Shield B $393 90 days 90 days $300,000

* Annual premiums quoted here are for Singapore citizens aged 31 to 40 on their next birthday. Some insurers charge more for PRs, do take note.

I’ve highlighted the “winners” for each category, and it seems straightforward that Great Eastern Supreme Health B Plus is probably the best IP you can buy for this level of coverage.

If you’re looking for a mid-tier Class B1 Integrated Shield plan, you’re probably looking for value-for-money – and Great Eastern delivers that in spades. Not only does it have the lowest premium for this age group, it also has the highest annual coverage limit.

You’re covered for 120 days (each) both pre- and post-hospitalisation, which is a whole lot better than the combined 90 days that NTUC Income offers, for example.

Alternatively, go for Raffles Shield B or Aviva MyShield Plan 3 for a decent price-to-coverage ratio. NTUC IncomeShield fares the worst for coverage, though it’s on the affordable side.

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Integrated Shield comparison 2019: Public hospital Class A IPs

Moving on to the comparison of the Class A Integrated Shield plans, which all 7 insurers offer:

Integrated Shield plan Annual premium* Pre-hospitalisation cover Post-hospitalisation cover Annual coverage limit
AIA Healthshield Gold Max B $463 100 days 100 days (200 for critical illnesses) $450,000
Aviva MyShield Plan 2 $478 90 days 180 days (public hospital / panel specialist) $600,000
AXA Shield Plan B $466 180 days 365 days $550,000
Great Eastern Supreme Health A Plus $418 120 days 180 days $1,000,000
NTUC IncomeShield Advantage $414 to $438 90 days (total) $500,000
Prudential PruShield Plus $423 180 days 365 days $600,000
Raffles Shield A $422 to $436 180 days (public hospital / panel specialist) 365 days (public hospital / panel specialist) $600,000

* Annual premiums quoted here are for Singapore citizens and PRs (no difference in premiums) aged 31 to 40 on their next birthday.

There isn’t a runaway winner here, but Great Eastern, once again, is very strong. Great Eastern Supreme Health A Plus is excellent value, with a sky-high $1mil annual limit that’s remarkable since its premium is one of the lowest.

Where it falls short is with the length of pre- and post-hospitalisation coverage. Personally, I would rather go for the 180/365 days combination that Prudential PruShield Plus and Raffles Shield A both offer. A whole year’s coverage after hospitalisation seems like excellent value to me.

 

Integrated Shield comparison 2019: Private hospital IPs

All 7 insurers also offer private hospital IPs for maximum financial protection:

Integrated Shield plan Annual premium* Pre-hospitalisation cover Post-hospitalisation cover Annual coverage limit
AIA Healthshield Gold Max A $596 to $609 13 months (AIA Preferred Provider, otherwise 100 days) 13 months (AIA Preferred Provider, otherwise 100/200 days) $2,000,000 (AIA Preferred Provider, otherwise $600,000)
Aviva MyShield Plan 1 $719 90 days 180 days (public hospital / panel specialist) $1,000,000
AXA Shield Plan A $593 180 days 365 days $1,000,000
Great Eastern Supreme Health P Plus $570 120 days 180 days $1,500,000
NTUC IncomeShield Preferred $685 to $702 90 days (total) $1,000,000
Prudential PruShield Premier $600 to $610 180 days 365 days $1,200,000
Raffles Shield Private $649 to $652 180 days (public hospital / panel specialist) 365 days (public hospital / panel specialist) $1,500,000 (public hospital / Raffles Hospital)

* Annual premiums quoted here are for Singapore citizens and PRs (no difference in premiums) aged 31 to 40 on their next birthday.

If you’re looking for the most expensive tier of IPs, I don’t blame you. I’ve heard enough bad stories about public healthcare to understand why some people would rather pay more to not be stuck in there. You would often get shorter waiting times and perhaps better care/specialists in private healthcare than public hospitals (or at least that’s the perception).

Given the premium nature of these plans, however, there isn’t a significant difference between most insurers’ private hospital vs. Class A IPs when it comes to pre- and post-hospitalisation cover.

At this price point, I would go for the AIA Healthshield Gold Max A because it has the longest pre- and post-hospitalisation coverage as well as the highest annual claim limits. Just note that you need to go through AIA’s Preferred Provider panel of about 400 specialists in order to enjoy the 13 months’ coverage.

If you don’t want to be tied down to a panel, AXA Shield Plan A is my second choice. The premium is relatively low and it has the full 180/365 days of pre- and post-hospitalisation coverage. The only downside is a relatively “low” annual claim limit of $1mil.

Ultimately, while the cost of an annual premium is important, what’s more crucial is that you should pick an integrated shield plan based on the level of coverage you require.

Which integrated shield plan do you plan to get? Tell us in the comments!

 

Related articles

Health Insurance in Singapore – Everything You Need to Know to Survive

Here’s Why You’d Be Really Silly to Not Get an Integrated Shield Plan in Singapore

Your Medisave Account In Singapore – How To Make The Most Of It

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Clara Lim

I used to be MoneyDumb. I hung out at H&M every day and thought that a $50 lunch set was a good deal. These days, I spend my time researching the crap out of life and trying to maximise utility on micro-decisions. I'm not sure if that's an improvement.