Singapore currently does not have a reimbursement plan specifically
for medical devices. However, Singapore’s hybrid healthcare financ-
ing framework helps to keep medical bills covering surgical proce-
dures and medical devices and drugs affordable.
virtually all Singaporeans to pay for their
share of medical treatment without financial difficulty. Working Singaporeans and
their employers contribute a part of the
monthly wages into the account to save up
for future medical needs. The account is
portable across jobs and after retirement.
Medisave covers various hospital ex-
• Daily ward charges;
• Doctor’s fees;
• In-patient charges for medical treatment, investigations, medicines, rehabilitative services, medical supplies, implants and
prostheses introduced during surgery; and
• Surgical operations, including use of
The claim limits are as follows:
• Medical/surgical inpatient cases: $360
per day for daily hospital charges for pa-
tients admitted on or after May 1, 2007.
This includes a maximum of $40 for doc-
tor’s daily attendance fees;
• Approved day surgeries: Up to $240
per day for daily hospital charges for sur-
geries performed on or after May 1, 2007.
This includes a maximum of $24 for doc-
tor’s daily attendance fees; and
• Surgical operations (inpatient and
same-day surgery): A fixed limit depending
on the complexity of the operation and ac-
cording to an approved list of procedures.
The third level of protection is provided
by MediShield, a low-cost catastrophic medical insurance plan. This allows Singaporeans as a collective to effectively risk-pool the
financial risks of major illnesses. MediShield
operates on a co-payment and deductible
system to avoid problems associated with
first-dollar, comprehensive insurance.
MediShield can cover up to 80 percent of
large medical bills at the Class B2/C level
(larger, shared, less-expensive rooms).
The fourth level of protection is ElderShield, a severe disability insurance. ElderShield also is available for subscription by
Singaporeans to risk-pool against the financial risks of suffering a severe disability. ElderShield supplements allow policyholders
to enhance the disability benefits coverage
offered by the basic ElderShield product.
Finally, as an ultimate safety net, the
government has established a medical endowment fund known as MediFund for
needy Singaporean patients who cannot
afford to pay their medical bills despite the
Many middle and higher income Singaporeans also have supplemented their basic
coverage with integrated private insurance
policies (Integrated Shield Plans) for treatment in the private sector. Singaporeans
must subscribe to the basic MediShield
product before they can purchase the add-on private Integrated Shield Plans. This industry structure preserves the national risk
pool and guards against“cherry picking” of
healthy lives by private insurers.
For the acute care sector, the public sector
dominates 80 percent of the care in this
sector. The primary care sector is dominated by private sector providers, which
account for about 80 percent of the market. In the step-down care sector (e.g.,
nursing homes, community hospitals and
hospices), service mainly is provided by
voluntary welfare organizations, most of
which are funded by the government for
services rendered to patients.
Primary healthcare service: Primary
healthcare service mostly is provided ( 80
percent) through some 2,000 private med-
ical clinics in Singapore. The remaining 20
percent of primary healthcare is provided
through the 18 public sector polyclinics.
Each polyclinic serves as a one-stop health
center that provides outpatient medical
care, follow-up of patients discharged from
hospitals, immunization, health screening
and education, investigative facilities and
pharmacy services. Singaporean citizens
age 65 and above, children up to 18 years
of age and all school children are given up
to 75 percent reduction in their consulta-
tion and treatment fees.
Singapore’s medtech market holds a lot of
potential for international medical device
firms. To be successful, though, companies
must understand the complexities of
Singapore’s healthcare system. ;
Ames Gross is president and founder of Pacific
Bridge Medical (PBM), a Bethesda, Md.-based
consultant firm that helps medical companies
do business in Asia. A recognized national and
international leader in the Asian medical markets, he founded Pacific Bridge Medical in
1988. PBM has helped hundreds of international medical companies with business development and regulatory issues in Asia.