Our guest expat writer spills the beans about Singaporean healthcare, from misconceptions and first impressions to the reality of high-quality care and medical treatment.
Before moving to Singapore, I was concerned about the quality of healthcare. Understandably then, it was a pleasant surprise to find wonderful and very capable doctors upon arrival. Not to mention, the process of finding a doctor of any type in Singapore is very easy, and most are highly qualified, some having even trained overseas, and many have knowledge of more than one language.
Expats in Singapore are able to choose between public and private healthcare doctors, each having unique benefits. Public doctors may charge a little less, but the wait time may be longer. If you choose a private healthcare doctor you may end up paying more, but the waiting time will generally be less. Singapore also claims a number of doctors who practice Chinese medicine.
No matter what type of healthcare doctor you choose, you will get the best of care. I have used all three types of doctors, and can say that they all knew what they were doing and made me feel very comfortable. My wait times were about the same in each kind of office, and I was able to book an appointment within a week, sometimes the next day.
If coming here with a job contract in place, one of the best resources to use to find a doctor in Singapore is your employer. Our company provided us with relocation help, and in turn, these service providers referred us to the hospitals and doctors that are most popular with the expats. I knew where to go for emergencies, and I knew the general services offered at those facilities.
If you do not have a relocation company helping with your move, the best approach to finding a trustworthy and reputable doctor would be to ask neighbours, co-workers or friends you may already have living in Singapore.
I found a medical facility not mentioned by our relocation company through word of mouth. Looking online for a doctor is also a good way to start. Furthermore, there are many expat forums and blogs that will help you find other options, if need be.
I found that the doctors in Singapore interacted with patients to a greater degree than those in Western countries. For example, I do not see a nurse before seeing the doctor when I have an appointment, and the doctor is my main contact; if I have questions, I call the doctor directly.
Singapore doctors are also much more to-the-point. They will tell you exactly how they want to proceed and why. They give out a lot of information, and I have rarely needed more information given. When the doctors see a problem, it is taken care of within days. They will refer you to a specialist if need be, and you will then most likely see the specialist within the day. It is a very efficient system.
When I have a doctor appointment, I will get a text to remind me. You can choose which way you prefer your reminders to be sent, including via email or via a phone call.
To book an appointment in Singapore you will need an NRIC/FIN number, if you do not have that, you will just need a passport number and the usual date of birth and name.
The one thing that was problematic for me was the insurance. As expats, we have insurance, but most places want the full payment ahead of time. There are a few that take insurance and bill you later, but finding those are hard. It is best to ask about payment methods ahead of time. Your insurance may also dictate what doctor you go to, as they may not reimburse certain doctors or types of care. You should check with your insurance first, always.