Top up or pay up


So cut to a recent conversation with one of my insurance clients…

“We already have insurance from work”

“Great, who with”

“XYZ company….why are you smiling? Is something wrong?”

“Not at all, that’s really good news, your policy is a really good policy”


Okay so this does not happen very often but when it does it takes me by surprise and hence the crazy, misleading smile.  I find out that the policy my client has not only offers a great level of cover but it’s fully portable should they leave their employer or the country.  Result!  Most people that I speak to do not have a great company health insurance policy or even a good insurance policy, in fact they tend to be very mediocre and provide the very minimum of cover.  Expatriates who are not PR do not have the benefit of a Medisave account and are therefore likely to need more than just a basic company policy.


The good news is that we all have the ability to top-up our company cover with a personal health insurance policy and bridge the gap which could save us the trauma of receiving a huge medical bill.


The bad news is that for many it’s often too late before we realise that our company policy is not quite what we thought it was.  The other bit of not-so-good news is that to solve the problem it is going to cost us money. 


If we do come to this realisation then we have two options.  We can either self-fund the medical expenses or put a top-up health policy in place to cover these expenses. The self-funding option is fine if you have a little sniffle but if it gets a bit more serious like a broken bone, a tonsillectomy, dengue fever or even heart surgery then it can become trickier or even impossible to manage.  The argument for putting a top-up policy in place is that you can control and manage the cost.  It is a known monthly or annual premium which should ideally be set at a level that is affordable to you.  Also, if you have some company cover in place already then the cost of insurance can be significantly reduced.


Many basic company policies limit your hospital cover for things such as surgical fees which are subject to a surgical schedule.  This is referred to as a ‘sub limit’ plan.  This means that the benefit paid out is capped according to a set schedule.  For example, a routine tonsillectomy may be capped at 25%, this means the company policy will only pay 25% of the cost and you are required to find the 75%.  If the surgery costs S$12,000, you will need to self-fund the S$9,000.


Some company policies that we have reviewed will pay out a maximum annual benefit for any condition or claim such as S$5,000.  Surviving with this policy alone is a big gamble given the cost of medical care in Singapore, however such a policy would make the solution very simple.  In this example a personal top-up policy with a deductible of S$5,000, could be a cost effective way to provide comprehensive cover.


The other benefit to personal plans is that you can take them with you if you change employer.  Furthermore, if you select a global policy you should be able to choose to continue your coverage if you repatriate or relocate.  This option would benefit you with any future pre-existing conditions that you develop.  For example, if you have complications during pregnancy or a slipped disc and change employment to an employer who does not provide any cover, you may find it hard to get a personal policy that does not carry exclusions or increased costs for all these conditions.  It’s a way of planning for the unknown.  We do know with certainty that none of us, regardless of our health or age are immune from future illnesses or accidents.


If you are unsure of how good your existing company policy is, or if you are sure that it is not very good then contact us at IPG and we can review the policy for you.  If we don’t start smiling we can at least give you a personalised recommendation for a top-up policy that suits your pocket and gives you peace of mind!