Practical Tips for Cutting Down Medical Costs in Singapore

Navigating healthcare expenses can be challenging, but there are several strategies to help you save money on medical costs in Singapore. Here’s a guide to making the most of available resources and adopting cost-effective practices.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE CHECK-UPS & SUBSIDIES

The Singaporean government has established a robust healthcare system with multiple layers of financial protection to ensure citizens are well-protected against high medical costs.

  • The first layer includes significant subsidies for hospitalization, outpatient care, and long-term care. You can receive up to 80% subsidy for hospitalization at public hospitals (B2/C wards), ensuring high-quality care regardless of the ward chosen.
  • MediShield Life offers lifelong health insurance for all Singaporeans, covering large hospitalization bills and expensive outpatient treatments like dialysis and chemotherapy. Additionally, CareShield Life, launched in mid-2020, provides lifetime cash payouts for individuals with severe disabilities.
  • MediSave scheme helps Singaporeans set aside part of their salary each month to cover medical expenses, including surgery, hospitalization, health screenings, and medical insurance, benefiting both you and your immediate family.
  • MediFund acts as a safety net for those who still face financial difficulties after utilizing other subsidies and payments. From 2020, ElderFund also supports the severely disabled with financial difficulties.

If you have a chronic condition like high blood pressure or diabetes, the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) now covers all Singaporeans with selected chronic conditions, irrespective of income. Polyclinics and public Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOCs) also offer substantial subsidies based on means-testing and age, with special rates for Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation seniors.

CONSULT MEDICAL SPECIALISTS WISELY

Singapore offers a wide range of medical specialties in both public and private hospitals. Costs vary significantly depending on the specialty and facility. For example, consultations with dermatologists range from S$125 to S$250, while ophthalmologists charge between S$80 and S$350. Choose specialists judiciously based on your medical needs and budget.

EXAMINE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN

Health insurance plans should align with your specific healthcare and lifestyle requirements. For instance, if you don’t plan on having children, maternity coverage isn’t necessary. Regular travelers might prefer plans with worldwide coverage.

Every Singaporean is covered under MediShield Life, a mandatory government health plan covering large medical expenses. However, its benefits are basic and tailored to Class B2 and C wards in public hospitals. To avoid high out-of-pocket costs for higher-class wards, consider enhancing your coverage with an Integrated Shield plan.

SAVE ON HOSPITAL TYPES

While healthcare quality is paramount, you can save significantly on room costs by choosing semi-private rooms or wards over private rooms. This can reduce your hospitalization expenses considerably without compromising the quality of care.

OPT FOR GENERIC DRUGS

Generic drugs are significantly cheaper than their brand-name counterparts while offering the same medical efficacy. For example, 20 tablets of Panadol (paracetamol) cost S$7.90, whereas 100 tablets of generic Paracetamol cost only slightly more at S$11.50. Always ask your doctor for generic alternatives or request a prescription to purchase medications from local pharmacies.

PRIORITIZE PREVENTIVE HEALTH

While health insurance and subsidies help manage costs, the best long-term strategy is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Eating well, staying active, and avoiding unhealthy habits can reduce the need for medical treatment and keep healthcare costs low. Remember, prevention is better than cure!

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By leveraging government schemes, choosing the right insurance, opting for cost-effective treatment options, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can manage and reduce your medical expenses effectively in Singapore.

Sources: 1 & 2

 

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8 Ways to Lose Weight and Still Keep Your Budget

Losing weight often comes with the concern of high costs. From expensive gym memberships to pricey diet foods, the financial burden can seem daunting. However, shedding pounds doesn’t have to make you broke.

Here are eight practical ways to lose weight while keeping your finances in check, especially for those living in Singapore.

EMBRACE HOME WORKOUTS

You don’t need a gym membership to get fit. There are countless free resources online, from YouTube workout videos to fitness apps that offer comprehensive routines.

COOK AT HOME

Eating out or buying pre-packaged diet meals can quickly become expensive. Cooking at home allows you to control ingredients and portions while saving money. Websites like Noob Cook offer recipes that are both healthy and budget-friendly.

PLAN YOUR MEALS

Meal planning helps you avoid impulse purchases and reduce food waste. Buy only what you need, which means fewer trips to NTUC and less temptation to buy snacks. You can keep a journal to plan your weekly meals.

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UTILIZE LOCAL PRODUCE

Buying fruits and vegetables in season from wet markets or local farms can be cheaper than purchasing out-of-season produce at the grocery store. Additionally, local produce is often fresher and more nutritious.

DRINK MORE WATER

Sometimes, hunger is confused with thirst. Drinking a glass of water before meals can help you feel fuller and prevent overeating. Plus, it’s free!

WALK OR CYCLE AROUND

Incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym. Try walking or cycling to work, or get off the bus or MRT one stop earlier to get those extra steps in.

JOIN FREE FITNESS COMMUNITIES

There are numerous online communities and local groups dedicated to fitness and health. These can offer support, motivation, and accountability without any cost. Check Eventbrite for free fitness events.

MAKE USE OF WHAT YOU HAVE

You don’t need fancy equipment to get a good workout. Use what you have at home – chairs for tricep dips, stairs for step-ups, or even canned goods as weights.

IN A NUTSHELL

Losing weight on a budget in Singapore is all about creativity and commitment. By making small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle, you can achieve your fitness goals without emptying your wallet.

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Share your own budget-friendly weight loss tips and stories in the comments!

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Why Did I Develop Allergies as an Adult?

Imagine the nostalgia of taking a bite of your favorite childhood snack, the very one your mother lovingly packed in your school lunchbox every single day. You eagerly anticipate the familiar crunchiness, but instead, your mouth betrays you with an irritating itch, and your throat feels uncomfortably scratchy. It’s a disheartening moment, realizing that you’ve developed oral allergies, a phenomenon that haunts adults more frequently, especially those with a history of seasonal allergies.

Allergies, my friend, are the handiwork of our body’s immune system, a complex dance of defense mechanisms. They stand apart from food intolerance or sensitivity, which arise when our bodies struggle to digest certain foods or food chemicals. In the intricate realm of allergies, our immune system kicks into action, producing a special warrior called Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, to combat the allergy symptoms. IgE is a messenger, a chemical emissary that travels to our cells, urgently conveying the message that we need a chemical defense against these foreign invaders. It’s a fascinating process, really. Allergic individuals tend to have elevated IgE levels in response to seemingly harmless environmental exposures, like innocent pollen particles drifting on the breeze.

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Now, let’s embark on a journey to understand how allergies come to life within us, mere mortals. Allergies can sprout forth at any stage of our existence. One factor that magnifies the likelihood of their emergence is the specter of family history. If even one parent carries the burden of allergies, their offspring face a 30-50% chance of walking the same thorny path. But wait, the stakes rise to a staggering 60-80% if both parents bear this burden.

Allergies can also develop later in life due to exposure to new allergens in the environment and changes in the immune system. This can happen anywhere from early adulthood, such as a person’s 20s, to their senior years, when they are in their 70s or 80s. The most common food allergies in adults include peanuts, fish, shellfish (e.g., shrimp and lobster), and tree nuts. Recently, sesame seeds have also emerged as a new allergen in some cases.

The most peculiar aspect of adult-onset allergies is that you can suddenly become irritated by an allergen that didn’t bother you yesterday. You may have been in contact with that allergen every day for years without experiencing any adverse effects. But now, you find yourself with a runny nose, itchy eyes, and uncontrollable sneezing whenever exposed to that allergen.

Some potential triggers for adult-onset allergies include:

1. Allergen exposure when your immune system is weakened, such as during illness, pregnancy, or a condition that compromises your immune function.

2. Limited exposure to an allergen during childhood. You may not have been exposed to high enough levels to trigger a reaction until adulthood.

3. Switching to a new home or workplace with different allergens. This could involve exposure to new plants and trees.

4. Owning a pet for the first time. Research suggests that allergies can develop after an extended period of not having any pets.

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The good news is that allergies can diminish over time. Even if you develop allergies as an adult, you may find that they start to fade away as you reach your 50s and beyond. This is because immune function tends to decline with age, resulting in less severe immune responses to allergens.

Sources: 1 & 2

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Toxins Lurking in Your Home: A Guide to Common Consumer Products in Singapore

As consumers, we place a great deal of trust in the products we use in our homes. We expect them to keep us and our loved ones healthy and make our lives easier. However, in Singapore, we must be aware that many of these products contain harmful toxins that can cause harm to our bodies and the environment. The thought of unknowingly exposing ourselves to such harmful chemicals can create feelings of fear and uncertainty, but it’s important that we educate ourselves on these risks to protect ourselves and our families.

It’s worth noting that not all chemicals are bad, and we can find unsafe substances in other products like food, furniture, and medicine. However, even tiny amounts of questionable chemicals can build up over time, especially if we use multiple products containing them. Let’s take caution to minimize our exposure and prioritize our well-being. Start by identifying which chemicals are worrisome!

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Over 100 consumer products may contain chemicals linked to cancer or reproductive and developmental problems, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. For example, diethanolamine (DEA), which is classified as a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, was listed as an ingredient in forty items, including soaps, lotions, hair products, and household cleaners. It’s crucial to know which chemicals to avoid to protect our health.

Secondly, you can consult the Health Sciences Authority’s database (HSA). HSA is a statutory board under the Ministry of Health that ensures the safety, effectiveness, and high quality of health products in Singapore. It regulates and oversees medical devices, cosmetics, supplements, e-cigarettes, and other products. You can access their website at hsa.gov.sg for information on licensed dealers, product regulations, and health news.

Finally, it’s essential to consider how you use the products. Personal care items like shampoos, soaps, and lotions are known to contain toxic chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and sulfates, which can cause hormone disruption, cancer, and other health issues. I remember having allergic reactions due to using shampoo containing phthalates and sulfates. The itching and red spots on my scalp caused me to find organic shampoos and other alternatives. It’s also crucial to note that skin lightening and anti-aging creams may contain dangerous levels of mercury, as found by researchers.

Pesticides used in gardening and pest control can contain harmful chemicals such as organophosphates, pyrethroids, and carbamates, which can cause acute poisoning. Long-term exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental delays.

Furthermore, certain types of air fresheners and scented candles can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful chemicals into the air, causing headaches, nausea, and other health problems.

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In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the toxic chemicals present in common household products and take steps to avoid or minimize exposure. Choosing safer and natural alternatives or reducing the use of these products can help protect our health and the environment. As consumers, we have the power to make informed decisions that can benefit ourselves and others around us.

Sources: 1 & 2

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How to Save Money on Healthcare in Singapore

When it comes to healthcare costs, we are wired to believe that things cost the way they do. If you have an insurance provider, chances are, you are paying a premium on a regular basis. If you are uninsured, you might be avoiding visits to the nearby clinic or hospital.

You can still save money on healthcare! To get the most value for your dollar, follow these money-saving tips.

#1: PRACTICE PREVENTIVE CARE

Do not get sick! One of the best things you can do to limit your healthcare costs is to establish a healthy routine that incorporates good nutrition, regular exercise, and stress management. Choose a wellness routine that works for you. When you nourish your body and spirit, you can have a meaningful impact on your future health and prevent healthcare costs.

#2: SELECT A SUITABLE HEALTH INSURANCE

Health insurance aids you in paying for your medical expenses when you get sick, get injured, or become disabled. Although all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are covered by Medishield Life, you may face some restrictions to your uses and claims. Payouts correspond to the prices for the Class B2 and C wards in public hospitals. So, you must be prepared to pay a large amount of money if you want to stay in a Class B1 or A ward. You can combat this by enhancing your health insurance coverage with an Integrated Shield plan.

#3: OPT FOR GENERIC MEDICATIONS

Brand-name medications are more expensive than generic brands. From a medical standpoint, previous literature has shown that generic medications seem to perform in the same manner as brand-name medications. Instead of poking a hole in your pocket, you can opt for generics to reap its benefits.

For instance, you can pay S$11.50 for 100 tablets of Paracetamol (500 mg) instead of paying S$10.50 for 20 tablets of Panadol.

#4: DROP BY YOUR LOCAL PHARMACY

For mild conditions, you can visit your local pharmacy to ask for advice. According to Unity’s website, their pharmacists can assist you with advice on minor ailments, medication concerns, travel medication, and so on.

For instance, you can consult their pharmacists if you have questions on your medications for your constipation. If you are experiencing mild ailments such as constipation, you can skip the clinic queues and go straight to the pharmacy. However, you must see a doctor if you are certainly unwell.

#5: SCREEN FOR LESS

Screen for Life is a national screening program that encourages Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents to go for regular health screening. Singaporean citizens only need to pay S$0 to S$5 per screening visit*. While Permanent Residents can check with their CHAS GP clinic on the screening test rates offered under the said program. The doctor consultation will be charged accordingly by the respective CHAS GP clinics.

Note: *Rates apply only at Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) General Practitioner (GP) clinics

#6: GO TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD POLYCLINIC FOR AFFORDABLE DENTAL CARE

If you are looking for a dental option for regular check-up and oral maintenance, search no further than the neighborhood polyclinic. Neighborhood polyclinics offer subsidized dental treatment and care. Both SingHealth and National Healthcare Group polyclinics have dental services, and it is easy to make an appointment online.

Recommended: 5 Most Affordable Dental Clinics In Singapore

Alternatively, you may utilize the company dental and health screening benefits. Check with your employee handbook or ask your Human Resources department to know which medical benefits you are eligible for.

#7: FREE VACCINATIONS AT POLYCLINICS FOR INFANTS

The National Childhood Immunization Program offers immunization against certain diseases, which are fully-subsidized. Full subsidies* for vaccinations under this program are available for Singaporean children at CHAS GP clinics and polyclinics.

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Note: *This is applicable for certain vaccine brands. Refer to go.gov.sg/vaccine-list for the list of the latest subsidized vaccine brands.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, & 4

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