Here’s Why Being “Too Educated” About Insurance is Not a Bad Thing in Singapore

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The kiasu Singaporean strikes again! A recent news report detailed how certain Singaporeans were “overusing” their medical insurance policies and driving the premiums up for the rest of us.

There was a lot of talk about how some Singaporeans, no doubt freaked out by the high cost of private healthcare, have gotten themselves heavily insured in areas like health care and personal accident, and are claiming the hell out of their policies.

Apparently, there are people out there who are extending their hospital stays in order to watch soccer on the hospital’s subscribed TV channels, or to get unnecessary treatment.

Not sure what counts as unnecessary in insurers’ books, but we’re sure these people aren’t really conveniently tacking on boob jobs to their hospital stays (and for the avoidance of doubt, no you would not be allowed to claim for something like that).

The article’s headline suggests that being “too educated” about insurance is a bad thing. So, should Singaporeans “uneducate” themselves? Or should we obfuscate the information so people are forced to remain in the dark? No, of course not. Here’s why it’s not “being too educated” that’s the problem.

 

Many Singaporeans are in fact clueless about insurance coverage

While the article chose to focus on the few Singaporeans who, supposedly being “too educated” about insurance, are abusing the system, it paid scant attention to the thousands, or possibly millions of Singaporeans who are either completely clueless, or don’t know enough.

In fact, a 2013 survey indicated that more than half of Singaporeans lacked adequate insurance, while a 2012 survey revealed that 50% of Singapore’s rising rich (people who had assets of between $100,000 and $350,000 managed by professionals) surveyed had little to no personal insurance coverage.

While we might have had some changes to the MediShield landscape since then, it’s clear there are still some serious gaps in consumer knowledge.

Sure, our MediShield just got upgraded to MediShield life, but that doesn’t mean life is all rainbows and unicorns now. There are many things MediShield Life will not help with, but private insurers will, if you are willing to pay the premiums.

 

Insurance doesn’t make medical care 100% free

It seems insurers aren’t very happy that Singaporeans are making claims with their policies, and thanks to one or two anecdotes of frivolous claims, are tarring everyone with the same brush.

But seriously, how many people do you know who’ve actually done this IRL? Heck, I have private medical insurance but I’d still rather avoid the hospital any day.

Because with most insurance plans with the usual riders, treatment is not free. You usually still have to pay a deductible and co-insurance.

Granted, most people will claim the hell out of their Medisave money for all the portions they need to fork out the cash for. But it’s their money after all, whether it’s locked away in Medisave or not, and that’s enough to deter some from making frivolous claims.

 

Not making a claim when you can is a waste of money

If you refuse to make a claim unless you’re bleeding to death in the middle of the CTE, you’re not making good use of those premiums you have to pay each year.

The insurance company may not think you “need” that extra night of observation in the hospital, but seriously, who are they to judge?

There is no rule that you can only make a claim if you would die without it. If you think it’s in the best interests of your health to make a claim, you have every right to do so. In fact, not doing so might cost you more money somewhere down the road should your health take a turn for the worse.

I have a friend who once got into a motorcycle accident and suffered a broken leg. Passers-by offered to call him an ambulance, but in order to save money he decided to hail a taxi and make his way to the hospital on his own, all while reassuring the cab driver he would try not to get blood all over the seats. He did not have medical insurance and was afraid he would be slapped with a hefty ambulance fee.

He is still alive so clearly, calling an ambulance wasn’t a matter of life or death. But if you can only make claims when your life depends on it, then your insurance might not even be worth the premium you’re paying.

Nobody is asking you to check into the hospital for fun. But there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you can make claims for, and doing so when it will benefit you, even if it means continuing treatment for a day or two when you don’t absolutely have to.

Have you ever made a health insurance claim? Share your experiences in the comments!

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.