Just about every Singaporean knows about the importance of health screenings. After all, catching a serious ailment too late could mean death or huge medical bills. But how much do you really know about health screenings and how much they cost in Singapore? Here’s the low down.
What is a health screening exactly?
Health screenings can either be specific or general. If you suspect or are at risk for a specific ailment (say a hereditary disease), most clinics and hospitals have a full list of screening procedures for various ailments which you can pick and choose from.
But if you’ve got nothing in particular in mind, you can go for a general health screening, often known as a comprehensive health screening. This comprises a physical check-up and several medical tests to screen for common conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Going for health screenings is important as you’ll want to detect diseases as soon as possible – early detection generally makes treatment more effective.
How often should you get screened?
The necessity of a comprehensive health screening really depends on your age, health and family history. When in doubt, ask your doctor what he would recommend.
When you’re young, you won’t need to undergo it every single year. In fact, certain types of screening like mammograms and x-rays can actually be harmful and should not be overdone.
However, after you reach a certain age – and this threshold varies from person to person – annual comprehensive health screenings are a good idea. Your doctor should be able to advise you on what to get screened for and at what age depending on your health and family history.
What goes into a basic health screening package?
Every basic health screening package should entail these 4 components, at minimum.
Medical health assessment: A chat with your doctor to assess your medical history and lifestyle and identify any potential risks you might have.
Physical examination: The doctor should take your height and weight, measure your BMI and check your vision.
Blood glucose test: A blood sample is taken after fasting, to test for diabetes.
Cholesterol (lipid) test: A test for high cholesterol and heart-related diseases, taken after fasting.
Individual hospitals may offer other medical tests in their basic health screening packages. So apart from checking the price, you also need to know what exactly is in the package. Common add-ons include…
Blood pressure test: The doctor takes your blood pressure to check for hypertension (high blood pressure).
Urine analysis: Your pee is examined as an indicator of your overall health and proper kidney function.
Full blood count: A blood sample is examined to determine if you have anaemia.
ECG (electrocardiogram): Using electrodes placed on your skin, this test records your heart activity and checks for heart conditions.
Some hospitals/clinics will also let you choose some add-ons to your package at a fee, which you should consider if there are particular conditions you are worried about or predisposed to.
Where can you get a health screening done in Singapore?
Before you waltz into the nearest polyclinic with no symptoms and ask for a check-up, know that polyclinics do NOT offer comprehensive health screenings. They only provide screenings for certain specific diseases (e.g. diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol).
So if you want a health screening done, these are your options in Singapore:
- Public hospitals
- Private hospitals
- Private clinics
Let’s look at how much comprehensive health screenings cost at these 3 types of providers.
How much do health screenings cost at public hospitals?
So how much does it actually cost to get screened? Well, that depends on what you’re getting screened for. The confusing thing is that hospitals’ packages can differ quite a bit in terms of types of screening offered and cost.
For the purposes of comparison, we’re looking only at the most basic (i.e. cheapest) packages you can get at the public hospitals.
All of these cover the basic 4 components (medical health assessment, physical examination, blood glucose test for diabetes, and cholesterol test for heart-related diseases). But some have a number of “extra” procedures, indicated on the rightmost column.
|Public hospital||Basic package price||“Extra” procedures|
|Ng Teng Fong Hospital / Jurong Community Hospital||$88||–|
|Khoo Teck Puat Hospital||$98||Urine analysis, ECG|
|Tan Tock Seng Hospital||$200||Auroscopy (ear examination), rectal examination, breast examination, blood pressure, stool analysis|
|National University Hospital||$260||Urine analysis, blood pressure|
|Changi General Hospital||$365||Urine analysis, ECG, kidney function test, liver function test, full blood count, Hep A & B|
How much do health screenings cost at private hospitals?
Although private hospitals tend to be much pricier than public hospitals in Singapore, there’s a big range in prices when it comes to health screenings. Therefore, private hospital screenings aren’t necessarily more expensive – it depends on what tests you want to include.
As a general rule, private hospital tend to offer packages with more exhaustive lists of tests and screening procedures. That said, basic health screening packages do exist (and at fairly competitive prices too).
|Private hospital||Basic package price||“Extra” procedures|
|Raffles Hospital||$74.90 ($71.16 if you buy online)||Full blood count, ECG, urine analysis|
|Mount Alvernia Hospital||$131.60||ECG, gout screen, kidney function|
|Farrer Park Hospital||$290||Blood pressure, full blood count, kidney function, liver function, thyroid function, Hep A & B, urine analysis, stool analysis, ECG, chest x-ray|
|Thomson Medical Centre (Wellth Clinic)||$310.50||Haemoglobin, kidney function, liver function, urine analysis, stool analysis, ECG, chest x-ray|
|Parkway East Hospital||$428 (men) or $458 (women)||Full blood count, kidney function, liver function, thyroid function, bone & joint screen, autoimmune disease screen, Hep A & B, urine analysis, stool analysis, ECG, chest x-ray|
|Gleneagles / Mount Elizabeth Hospital||$708 (men) or $738 (women)||Full blood count, kidney function, liver function, thyroid function, bone & joint screen, autoimmune disease screen, Hep A/B/C, urine analysis, stool analysis, pap smear, chest x-ray, ECG, heart disease marker, glaucoma, tumour marker (liver, colon, prostate or ovary)|
How much do health screenings cost at private clinics?
If you thought there was a lot of price variation among the hospitals, wait till you see what it’s like with the clinics. Due to the intense competition, it’s possible to find super cheap health screening packages (under $50!) at a clinic. At the same time, prices can also go up to $300.
Here’s a small sampling of clinics in Singapore to show you the variation in prices:
|Private clinic||Basic package price||“Extra” procedures|
|Central Clinic||$48||Gout, kidney function, liver function|
|Sata CommHealth||$64.20||Blood profile, electrolytes, liver function, kidney function, gout, urine analysis|
|Lifescan Medical Centre||$88||Blood pressure, full blood count, kidney function, live function, bone & joint screen, urine analysis|
|Healthway Medical||$270||Blood pressure, ECG, blood profile, kidney function, liver function, bone & joint screen, thyroid screen, Hep A & B, tumour markers (liver, colon, ovary or prostate), urine analysis, stool analysis, STDs|
Which health screening options are the most affordable?
Our brief survey of the health screening options in Singapore shows that there’s a massive range of prices AND huge differences in what the packages entail.
As we’ve shown, private does NOT necessarily mean more expensive than public when it comes to health screening prices.
Those who are really budget conscious can try enquiring at a private clinic for even cheaper rates. Even for the “more comprehensive” health screening packages, clinics are cheaper. For example, Healthway Medical’s $270 health screening is very similar to Gleneagles’ $708 one – at less than half the price.
But clinics are generally less recognised than big brand names like Raffles Medical and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, so make sure you’re comfortable with that. On the other hand, you might get more personalised service if it’s with, say, your family doctor.
Generally, the more tests a package has, the more expensive it is. Provided you’re still young and healthy, and not genetically predisposed to certain disorders, you may want to opt for one of the super basic health screenings without all the bells and whistles.
However, you’ll probably want to discuss the options with your regular doctor before you commit to a screening, just in case there’s something you didn’t think to look out for.
Can you pay for health screenings with Medisave?
As you can see, going for a comprehensive health screening is not cheap. Unfortunately, you can’t offset general health screenings with Medisave.
Medisave can only be used for a limited range of specific screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. If you already have a chronic disease like diabetes or hypertension, you might be able to make claims for screening as part of outpatient treatment.
Don’t be too put off by the prices of screening packages. Not going for a screening and falling sick as a result could end up costing you a lot more in the long run, so when you reach a certain age you definitely want to consider going for a comprehensive health screening more regularly.
Have you ever gone for a comprehensive health screening? Share your experiences in the comments!
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