How I got my pregnancy covered by insurance
When I got married, my husband and I decided to wait 2 years before we tried to conceive. We wanted to enjoy the honeymoon period fully and we really got our chance to do so especially with travel, eating out and even the most sought-after thing for me now, UNINTERRUPTED SLEEP! (Things that are much harder to do spontaneously now that we have 2 kids!)
It was in this 2-year period after a chance meet-up with a friend, that made me start thinking about how I could get my pregnancy covered by insurance. You see, she had her first child and the birth had its fair share of complications with her going for an emergency C-section. I was curious to find out how much her bill had come up to. It was a staggering $19,000! What surprised me, even more, was that IT WAS ALL COVERED! Including her prenatal check-ups and scans and post-natal care!
As you can imagine, my first reaction was “What! No way... How could you cover your whole pregnancy with insurance? Is this a company coverage?”
You see, the local plans in Singapore do not allow for covering your pregnancy. The cost is usually borne by you. Integrated shield plans usually only cover pregnancy complications (Most plans have a waiting period before you can claim this benefit too).
You can also use your Medisave to pay for the hospitalization bill but that only covers a part of the bill. Pregnancy (and labour!) costs differ especially given these factors:
Do you go to the private or government route?
What are the tests that you take? (Scans, Diabetes Test, Panorama/Oscar Test etc)
Is it a natural, Elective C-Sect or Emergency C-Sect?
What is your ward type?
Does the newborn require medical attention at birth?
She then told me that it was neither her company coverage nor her integrated shield plan coverage. It was in fact an International Insurance Plan that included a maternity benefit. This piqued my curiosity especially since I was an agent myself who mainly dealt with local insurance plans at that time. My friend told me to contact the person she had dealt with and the rest, as they say, is history!
I ended up purchasing that insurance coverage for myself in October 2015 thinking that I might want to try getting pregnant within the next 2 years. This particular plan came with a 10-month waiting period before any pregnancy claim could arise. I also opted for a deductible (the amount you pay for the bill incurred before your insurance plan starts to pay) to lower the premiums.
You see, these international insurance plans can end up being very expensive monthly. My monthly premium was around SGD$350. And this too came with a deductible of SGD $1200 per year of insurance. This can end up being quite an investment. But I only had one thing on my mind when I was getting this insurance.
There is a gap which our local insurance providers do not cover – Your baby in the first few weeks of life. You can get a hospitalization coverage for your baby only 15 DAYS after birth.
The application process perhaps takes a week or less (should there be no medical underwriting needed) and coverage can commence once the deduction from Medisave goes through (This is for the integrated shield plans). This means that for almost a month since being born, a baby cannot be covered for hospitalization costs. Not even as a tag on to the mother’s plan.
It was this gap which made me go the International Insurance route to get coverage. Under these plans, you can actually add a newborn to your coverage from Day 1 itself (within the first month of birth), subject to an increase in premiums. This means that should the baby require medical attention such as NICU or any procedures etc, it can be covered.
As luck would have it, I ended up getting pregnant in June 2016! This was 2 months short of the required 10 months waiting period. As such, I could only start claiming in my 3rd month onwards. But alas! I had also forgotten that the deductible was on a yearly basis. Since my pregnancy straddled 2 separate years of insurance, I ended up having to pay SGD $2500 in deductibles! So, did the math actually add up?
I ended up being on the plan for 17 months in total. This meant that in premiums alone, I paid a total of SGD $5950. Along with the amount I paid in deductibles, I ended up paying around SGD $8450. This is a significant amount for sure. But I decided to look at it with a different pair of lenses. My hospitalization bill for the delivery itself came up to $11,000* (See below for full description). But I also claimed pre and postnatal costs amounting close to $5,000 (Scans, Medication, Screenings, Lab Tests etc.). This means that in total, my claim was close to $16,000. Plus, it also allowed my son to be covered from Day 1 which gave me peace of mind, which in my opinion is priceless.
I think I ended up being quite fortunate because although we had planned to get pregnant much later, I was able to utilise the coverage earlier since I got pregnant faster (It was unplanned!) If you are ever considering getting international insurance, do take into consideration the waiting period. And also, the fact that sometimes we may plan to get pregnant at a certain point in our lives but it is not as simple as getting pregnant on demand. In some cases, the wait could be longer. As such, you might end up being on the plan longer than expected. Thus, paying premiums longer as well.
Given that my main aim was to cover my child, I felt a sense of peace with the coverage. It was also nice being able to claim for outpatient costs such as my doctor’s visits and the scans and screenings that were needed. I would actually like to thank my friend V for openly sharing about her journey. It is thanks to her than I am able to share my journey with you today 😊
My Hospital Bill *
I had stayed at Thomson Medical and was hospitalized for a total of 4 days. I ended up choosing a premier A class ward as it meant that there were only 9 other rooms on the same level and the nursery was also a private one. Plus, being Indian, at any point in time, I had a whole village in my room (This is an exaggeration of course but sometimes it feels like that!) thus the added space came in handy. I had a natural birth with no epidural and my son needed an assisted birth (Vacuum). He stayed in the NICU for 1 day due to some respiratory issues and he also had jaundice and needed to stay an extra day in the hospital. Due to all that, the bill for the hospital alone was $11K.
If you have any insurance-related questions, I am all ears! Drop me a message using the contact box below and I will be happy to help. 😊