The madness of COVID-19 has left all of us a little worse for wear, and sometimes no amount of meditating with an app can help.
In the past, the only mention of mental health would be jokes about Woodbridge. These days, awareness of mental health issues is growing in Singapore, but getting psychological or psychiatric help remains a significant financial burden.
Is there any insurance that covers your mental wellbeing? Here are 5 options we found in Singapore.
1. MediShield Life / Integrated Shield Plan
Singaporeans and PRs are covered by MediShield Life, some without even knowing it. The government’s basic healthcare insurance plan can be used for up to 35 days of psychiatric inpatient care per year, with a claim limit of up to $100 per day.
However, remember that MediShield Life payouts are pegged at B2 or C wards in public hospitals — use anything above that and you might have to fork out significant out-of-pocket costs.
You can (and probably should) beef up your MediShield Life protection by purchasing an Integrated Shield Plan. IPs should enable you to claim much more for psychiatric hospitalisation, and also typically include outpatient treatment and diagnosis received before and after hospitalisation. Depending on your plan, you might also be able to use B1 wards, A wards or private hospitals.
However, do note that there is always a co-payment portion when it comes to IPs. In other words you cannot avoid incurring some out-of-pocket costs.
Medisave isn’t health insurance, but it’s often mentioned in the same breath as MediShield Life because it’s also a government scheme to help with medical costs.
In any case, on top of the MediShield or Integrated Shield coverage, you can also use your Medisave funds to pay for psychiatric hospitalisation. The limits are up to $150 per day and $5,000 a year.
If your condition falls under one of the conditions under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) you may also use up to $500 a year from Medisave for outpatient care and any other claims you might be making under the MediSave 500 Scheme.
Mental health conditions under the CDMP include:
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
3. AIA Beyond Critical Care
AIA Beyond Critical Care is Singapore’s first critical illness insurance for both mental and physical illness.
Just like any other critical illness insurance plan, AIA Beyond Critical Care pays out a lump sum upon diagnosis of a serious illness such as stroke, cancer or heart attack.
The difference is that this plan also has a mental wellness benefit, which pays an additional 20% of your critical illness coverage amount (max. $50,000 per claim) if you get diagnosed with one of 5 mental illnesses:
- Major depressive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Tourette syndrome (up to the age of 21)
This is a lump sum payment rather than a reimbursement of medical fees, but it can help you stay on your feet as you recover.
4. Chubb Work From Home Insurance (group insurance)
Working from home might save you from having to squeeze onto the MRT in the morning, but it also comes with its own set of challenges.
Chubb’s Work from Home Insurance plan is a response to the psychological strain that workers face when cooped up at home.
(Do note that the plan in question is a group insurance plan, for employers to take out on behalf of their employees. There is a separate Work From Home plan targeted at individuals that offers different benefits.)
Chubb’s plan covers accidental death or total and permanent disability when working remotely on the move or away from home, ergonomics injury (carpal tunnel syndrome anyone?), domestic perils including slips, falls and burns, and ergonomics prevention.
But for the purposes of this article, we’re most interested in the mental health support benefit, which is up to $500 per employee.
This benefit can be used to pay for mental health or psychological counselling expenses of employees diagnosed with stress disorders caused or contributed to by working from home arrangements. In these crazy times, mental issues can be caused by any number of factors, but staying cooped up at home while having to field demands from your boss could well be one of them.
5. Other group insurance plans with mental health benefits
Mercer & Aviva’s Mental Wellness Plan is another plan that employers can buy on behalf of their employees if they are already purchasing group insurance from Aviva.
The plan basically extends the benefits employees are already enjoying from their corporate health insurance to mental health conditions, too.
It will offer coverage for mental health care as well as the cost of approved medications. It will also enable employees to see a panel of mental health professionals, with cashless payment options.
In a similar vein, AXA’s new #BetterMe employee benefits programme allows participants access to a psychologist via a digital health coaching programme.
Users will be able to access the digital health coaching programme through the Naluri app when their employers enrol them in AXA’s #BetterMe employee benefits programme. They will also have access to Naluri Lite, which features a suite of resources including the option to chat with a dedicated psychologist, dieticians and fitness coaches.
But there’s still a long way to go for mental health insurance
If the above insurance plans and initiatives are anything to go by, it seems that insurers are recognising an unfulfilled demand for mental health insurance coverage, even though at the moment most of the options are limited to corporate plans.
We still have a long way to go before support for mental health becomes widespread. For example, in the US, there is the mental health parity law that requires insurance plans to cover mental health treatment to the same extent as medical and surgical benefits.
Hopefully, over the next few years, mental healthcare will become more normalised in Singapore and accessible to us all.
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