The ultimate price comparison of Integrated Shield Plans (IP / Riders)

Jes , 15 Comments

Health is wealth.

Without health, you cannot enjoy anything, even with all the money in the world. However, we occasionally take health for granted. As I aged, I start to see more illnesses happening around me which are constant reminders that I should put in more efforts to maintain good health. However, I can only do so much to prevent illnesses from happening. So, it's due time I do a post on hospitalisation plans aka Integrated Shield Plans or Riders.

I kept delaying this even though I get many queries on this. Reason being, it is complicated and a huge headache to sort through the numbers. My parents kept telling me they hate reading the fine print and different conditions so I know I have just got to do this for myself and for them. If even 1 other person can benefit from this, then my efforts would not have been in vain.

My homework for the day!
MediShield Life
Before talking about the Riders plan, I will have to mention the coverage for MediShield Life which is up to Ward B2 and C. MediShield Life is for all Singaporeans and PRs and covers us for life, even for pre-existing conditions. It can be paid through Medisave and of course, it's compulsory.

Withdrawal limits means that you cannot withdraw more than the stated amount from Medisave

Not to worry, there are subsidies even to pay for Medishield Life, more so for Pioneer Generation. To find out how much is your subsidies, check out this calculator from MOH.

Key explanations
With the price increase of some hospitalisation plans, it's time to review my own policies, including for my family. Some explanations on my comparison:
1) Only 4 companies were compared - NTUC Incomeshield Plus Rider, Prudential Prushield Extra, AIA Max Essential, Great Eastern Supreme Health.
2) These plans cover 100% of the cash portion, which is the co-insurance and deductible part of your medical bills.
3) I am just comparing the prices and not the other details like the the cash benefits. It is because I would rather pay cheaper for the insurance than get back cash benefits should disasters strike.
4) Prudential does not have the riders plan for Ward B1 and below. I am unable to get the amount for Prudential as they have removed their prices online. AIA does not have coverage above 76 years old.
5) Under the 'Pay By Medisave' portion, there is also a withdrawal limit so the full amount might not fully be paid by Medisave.
6) Updated 22nd October 2017 to include age up to 100.

The cheapest is NTUC (yellow boxes) while second is Great Eastern (orange boxes)
The cheapest is still NTUC (lots of yellow boxes) while Great Eastern (lots of orange boxes) comes in a close second

Similarly, NTUC (mostly yellow boxes) is still cheaper than Great Eastern (mostly orange boxes).

Conclusion
All these companies have increased their prices this year in 2017. In general, NTUC has the lowest premiums among all the Integrated Shield Plans. Surprisingly, Great Eastern still managed to be lower than NTUC in some age bands. They are pretty close in prices to NTUC and comes in a close second place.

Additional Points
1) The annual pay out limit for Prudential is higher than the others at 1.2 million, the rest are at 1 million for the riders plan in private hospitals.
2) Great Eastern has a Total Platinum Health Select + Health Connect and is the cheapest among the 100% coverage for private hospitals. The caveat is that it requires 3 days pre-authorisation. I heard AIA does have similar plan but I am unable to find the relevant information.
3) You can top up to NTUC Daily Cash Rider if you require cash benefits.
4) Update as of October 2017: Prudential offers a 10% discount to your existing premiums if you claimed less than $1000 for the past year.

For people who are cash strapped, these plans can help you:
1) NTUC Assist Rider, it only ask you to pay for 10% of the bills, subject to a limit up to $3,000.
2) Prushield Extra Lite covers 100% of the co-insurance but 50% of the deductible.

What this means for me
I was deciding between buying the plan for Private hospital or Restructured (Public) hospital with ward A and below. Since I stay near a public hospital, I feel that it is sufficient. I am keen to change my family including my baby from Prudential to NTUC IncomeShield Plus Rider Advantage. Update: I called NTUC requesting for a financial advisor but they did not get back to me even after a second reminder. Thus, I decided to go with Great Eastern Total Health Gold as the agent is my friend. Luckily for us, we bought these plans before 1st May 2017 which was before the price increase for Great Eastern. They are actually cheaper than NTUC!

For people with pre-existing conditions, you may not be able to change plans so easily. For the rest, it might mean a few hundred dollars savings a year. You may think it's not substantial amount, but think of the amount you can save throughout your lifetime!

Update: I have done another post which includes AXA and Aviva. Do click here for Part 2 on more details!

Final advice
I advocate Integrated Shield plans to everyone. Why? Because peace of mind is priceless. I don't think it's worth it to save the money and yet having to worry all night on the hospital bills when accident strikes.

Health is wealth.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________
Please do not trust my calculations and decide on your own which is the best for you. I do not recommend NTUC or other policies because I get zero commission from this. Like me on Facebook to get more updates on relevant financial comparisons.

Jes

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15 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing.

    Have to make sure there is no pre existing illness before one does a switch.

    Personally i feel paying insurance (advantage ntuc or the like) for A1 ward in public hospital is quite redundant.
    Either the basic or private.

    The bottleneck is the specialist who are immediately available in private for surgery. Having advantage, u are just having a better ward with no priority for specialist, so better to get the cheapest one for public hospital.

    Im on the advantage ntuc now actually ...been procrastinating on upgrading to the preferred one

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I worked in public hospitals. Yes, A-class patients have priority over B1, and B1 over B2 & C. In terms of scheduling appointments, surgery dates, etc.

      Only in a blue moon will a lower class patient override --- and that is if:
      1) that patient requires immediate surgery for life or death situation.
      2) no other qualified-enough specialist / surgeon.

      Of course if you insist on a popular & well-known specialist who already has a long list of hundreds of patients con-currently seeing him, then it will be challenging to always get dates that you want. Scheduling will have to be on seriousness of condition for each patient under that specialist. It's the same with specialist in private hospital.

      Delete
    2. Hi Sgdividends,

      Yep, pre-existing conditions are the main concern but luckily it's covered under MediShield Life. Anyway, I think there is no right or wrong. I personally feel paying for private hospitals is redundant, haha! This is because I just visited a friend staying in Ward A in NUH, it's really luxurious. I think it's definitely more than sufficient. For the specialist case, I can't comment since I am lucky not to have encountered them.

      If you really feel like upgrading to the preferred one soon, don't procrastinate anymore :)

      Delete
    3. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for the sharing your knowledge. It does makes me feel better having bought the Ward A policy in public hospitals. That means if the majority who bought the private hospital policies go only to private hospitals, then there is no priority to anyone. They will be attended to depending on the severity of their conditions.

      Whereas in public hospitals, at least staying in Ward A will get me some priority. This is also great information for us to buy riders for your parents/children just to get the priority, on top of the peace of mind for paying nothing for hospital bills.

      Appreciate this great information, thank you very much!

      Delete
  2. You should also consider the pre and post hospitalisation period. Aia seems cheap on the surface but it's post hospitalisation is 100 days as compared to GE which is 180.. axa is 365 days

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Thanks for sharing this point. For me, the pre and post hospitalisation period is not the most important part. I would not want to pay more for a plan that can cover longer post hospitalisation. The bulk costs would be the stay in hospitals and the medical tests done there. That's only for me though, probably others can consider them depending on their situation.

      Appreciate the sharing!

      Delete
  3. Hi,

    I recently did a quick comparison of the premiums as well. It was something similar to yours, however, my basis of comparison was purely the cash outlay while yours was a combination of medisave expenses + cash outlay.

    The conclusion was that Great Eastern Supreme P Plus + Platinum Select Rider has provided cheaper cash outlay when compared against NTUC Income Preferred Plan + Rider.

    Just for sharing ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      Good to know! Well, Medisave is also our money, hahaha. If you have also compared the terms and benefits too, please let us know as it will be very useful. I think instead of Supreme P Plus, I would rather go for Total Platinum Health Select + Health Connect, much cheaper.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing and comparing! :)

      Delete
  4. Hi Jes
    Thanks for sharing.
    are the some mistakes in above tables under GE columns?
    Why are the rates under Supreme Health B plus more expensive than Supreme Health A plus?

    Thanks
    Derrick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Derrick,

      Omg I am so flabbergasted because nobody pointed it out after so long! I am so glad you noticed and not let me get even more embarrassed for this silly error. Seeing all the numbers have made me a bit blur and thus, I have made effort to double check them now. Supreme Health B is definitely cheaper than A plus!

      Thanks for being alert and notifying me, appreciate it very much~! :)

      Delete
  5. Jess,

    In my opinion, private hospital or A ward is atas thing and definitely not worth paying for. As always, the basic plan (also in broadband) is the best for masses.

    I have NTUC + plus rider for everyone in my family. In last ten years, only once did my child in the whole family was hospitalized last week. As is natural, she was taken to KKH A&E, who would like to observe the child for 2 days. Choosing the ward under duress is difficult and stupid conversation during admission process, but unavoidable as the process has been institutionalized to compartmentalize patients.

    Also, all the restructured hospitals have an array of specialists who knows what they do and we should not be so concerned about who would treat us.

    I am happy with the basic plans and also would be perfectly fine if no other insurance exists other than medishield which protects on the maximum outlay from our own pocket.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Maggie,

      Thanks for sharing, it is always good to know about another's perspective. I am sure regardless of restructured or private hospitals and the different wards, we would have good medical care available.

      There have been instances where there are insufficient beds/wards for you to choose government hospitals or the wards that you prefer. It is well known that there is an existing bed crunch even with more hospitals being built. I am not advocating that you buy any policies but just so you know why some people would opt to pay more for other plans.

      I have also heard of instances where people go in and out of hospitals unfortunately, and thus a better plan would be more worth while for them. It is also suitable with people who have special health conditions or at greater risk of being hospitalised. I am glad your family is healthy and the best plan is to maintain a healthy lifestyle like yours!

      You have thought this through carefully and I see no reason why you should pay more too. For me, I think the difference of around $100 between Ward A and B1 is still acceptable but I would definitely re-consider as age catch up and the difference is larger. Appreciate that you gave me some good points to think about! :)

      Delete
  6. Jes, are you sure you will be denied a bed of your choice in the restructured hospitals? I was of the opinion that the hospital puts a patient in a higher priced ward and move him/her to the desired ward when the beds become available.

    On a side note, I did a study on the availability of beds and average time a patient spends 3 years ago. As a whole, the number of beds are reduced yoy across all hospitals (private and public). A division head of a big private hospital confirmed our findings and that they evaluate occupancy rates every year. At the most 75-80% of beds are occupied during peak periods on average across all hospitals. There are various reasons for low occupancy, but the decision to choose A or private ward should not be based on unavailability of a chosen ward/bed .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Maggie,

      Just nice recently there was this article on this patient who was unable to get into SGH and was burdened by the $78k bill (http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/patient-could-not-get-place-in-sgh-hit-with-78k-bill). My personal newphew could not get a bed in B1 ward at NUH and had to stay in Ward A during the 2 days stay. I know it is a one-off example and not everyone will encounter such unlucky incidents.

      Anyway, I agree with you that the most basic plan is indeed sufficient. Hopefully I will not get to use my plan at all!

      Delete
  7. Hi Jes,

    Thank you for the write up. I just joined this industry not long and came across your blog and this is a good guide for me. Will be looking forward to your new post.

    Regards,
    Alyssa

    ReplyDelete