Integrated Shield Plan: Why Medishield Life Coverage Is Not Enough

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To begin with, I am sure you have heard of Medishield Life, Integrated Shield Plan, health insurance or hospital insurance.

You might have a public or private hospital insurance.

What about the people you love? Your kids, parents, siblings or relatives, or even friends.

If you only have Medishield Life, read this article till the end.

Even if you have a hospital plan, read to understand why you are getting it.

integrated shield plan and medishield life coverage

What is Medishield Life

Some of you might not know what Medishield Life is… so let me summed it up for you in 1 min!

(1) Medishield Life is a basic health insurance plan for hospital bills and selected outpatient treatments such as cancer

Since it is basic, the coverage has limitations. See table below for better understanding.

(2) Medishield Life is compulsory and only for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PR)

If you are a foreigner, you are not covered under Medishield Life, and you have no subsidy at all from the government.

This means all the more you should get a hospital plan to cover for costly hospital bills in Singapore.

As for PR, although you have subsidy from the government + coverage from Medishield Life, they are lesser than Singaporeans. More will be explained below too.

So PRs should get a hospital plan too.

(3) Medishield Life mainly covers for the subsidised B2/C wards in public hospital

For those who want to stay in better wards:

  • public hospital B1 or A wards
  • private hospital

Medishield Life will only cover a small proportion of the bill. You have to pay more from Medisave or cash.

So if you want to stay in better wards, you should get a hospital plan too.

Why should I get an Integrated Shield Plan

Today, 6 in 10 on Medishield Life have an Integrated Shield Plan.

Let see some of the reasons why it is so important to get one.

(1) It provides much more benefits and coverage [Bills can be fully covered]

Some of the most important benefits are:

  • Every single cent of the bill can be fully covered
  • Pre and post-hospitalisation bills can also be fully covered

In the following benefits and coverage table comparison, I will be using Prudential PruShield against Medishield Life.

Medishield Life PruShield with Full Rider
(Per Policy Year)
$100,000 Public $600,000
Private $1.2 million
Ward & Surgery Limitations As charged*
Have to pay

No need to pay
Have to pay

No need to pay
Not covered

180 days before hospitalisation
(X-ray, blood test, scans, consultation, etc)
Not covered

365 days after hospitalisation
(X-ray, blood test, scans, consultation, etc)
A&E Amublance Fee
Not covered
Post-Hospitalisation TCM
Not covered

(*As charged except for very few items)

Now, for outpatient:

Medishield Life PruShield with Full Rider
Emergency Treatment due to Accident Public $2000 per year
Private $3000 per year
Cancer Treatment Limitations As charged
Kidney Failure Treatment Limitations As charged

I think with much more benefits and coverage, it is definitely worth it to get hospital insurance.

(2) Medical inflation is rising and future hospital bills can be scary

Medical inflation in Singapore is increasing at double digit annually.

This medical cost or bill for the same procedure/ward/medications for next year will definitely be higher than this year.

singapore medical inflation

Are you thinking you will never be hit with a massive hospital bill?

Wrong, there is a possibility. Here’s a story from a lady whose mum was hit with a 1 million dollar bill and passed away.

1 million hospital bill healthcare or nightmare

Why is it so expensive?

58 days in ICU, 10 doctors and $350,000 in medications.

1 million medical bill 58 days ICU

If you think you will never fall into such circumstances because you are covered with Medishield Life,…

Think again.

(3) Health might not allow you to get in future

If you have diabetes or critical illness, no matter how much money you have, you will not be able to buy one.

Common critical illnesses are:

  • Major cancers
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coronary artery by-pass surgery
  • Kidney failure
  • End stage lung disease
  • End stage liver failure

My dad has diabetes and my aunt had a heart valve replacement surgery.

Both of them want to buy but are not able to buy anymore.

Even if you can buy, that particular health condition might be excluded for future claims.

So get it now if you want to, before your health turns for the worse as you age.

(4) Long waiting time for subsidised B2/C wards

Because subsidised B2/C wards serve the mass, there are limited beds and doctors that can attend to the mass.

Long waiting time is expected for:

  • A&E
  • Beds
  • Appointments
  • Surgery

It is common to wait for many hours at A&E or for beds at public hospitals.

Appointments and surgery dates can be months away.

This is because there are so many people in line waiting for beds, doctors, appointments and surgeries.

Here’s the median waiting time for public hospital emergency department at the end of Mar 2017.

public hospital median waiting time (end Mar 2017)

Notice that waiting time at Tan Tock Seng Hospital is the highest.

But if you look at another period, Ng Teng Fong Hospital is the highest.

public hospital median waiting time (nov 2017)
Sources: Ministry of Health

If you go for public hospital A wards or private hospital, waiting time is much shorter.

For private hospitals, waiting time can be almost immediate.

This is because lesser people go there.

(4) Sometimes you are left with no choice

Are you also thinking that you won’t go to public hospital A wards or private hospital?

If yes, then maybe you are wrong too. Things might not happen your way.

Here’s a story of a security guard who had a heart attack at Gleneagles Hospital.

And naturally, he was also sent to Gleneagles instead of a public hospital.

gleneagles hospital pay medical bill for security guard who suffered heart attack

His family members wanted to transfer him to Singapore General Hospital but there was no ICU available.

He can’t wait any longer and thus, had to go ahead with the surgery at Gleneagles.

no choice but to go ahead with gleneagles operation

Sometimes, you will not be able to decide.

For example, if you faint or have an accident, you might be sent to the nearest hospital, which could be a private one.

So… better to cover yourself for private hospital if you can afford.

(5) If you are a PR, you get lesser government subsidy and Medishield Life coverage

Singaporeans get the most government subsidies and foreigners do not have subsidies, while…

Permanent residents are sandwiched in between.

There are subsidies for PRs but not a lot.

Ward Singaporeans PR
C 65% - 80% 32.5% - 55%
B2 50% - 65% 25% - 40%
B1 20% 10%
A 0% 0%
Private Hospital 0% 0%

Visit Ministry of Health website for the complete list of subsidy rates.

As for Medishield Life, PRs also get less coverage compared to Singaporeans.

medishield life pro-ration for singaporean and permanent residents

With lesser government subsidy + less Medishield Life coverage, it is strongly recommended that PRs get hospital insurance to cover the rest of the bills.

Here’s an example where a PR has to pay more than 50% of the bill with medisave or cash.

permanent resident less subsidy hospital bill

Main Concerns in getting an Integrated Shield Plan

Usually the only reason is money $$$ and maybe people think that B2/C wards and Medishield Life coverage are enough.

money symbol
singapore money

If paying few hundred dollars of cash a year for an Integrated Shield Plan is painful, then what about paying $20,000 in cash for a hospital bill.

(Older ones pay more than $1,000 in cash for Integrated Shield Plans)

If the bill is much larger (just like the $1 million dollar story above), you will need to pay much more in cash (e.g. $50,000).

Many patients who are hospitalised end up in 2 situations:

  1. If they have a hospital plan, they are very thankful that the whole bill can be claimed
  2. If they don’t have a hospital plan, they might be worried about the hospital bill

If you are in situation (2), you face restrictions in seeking better quality treatment/benefits.

You might regret not getting an integrated shield plan.

And it might be too late because your health might not allow you to be covered.


After reading, do you think it is important to get a hospital insurance, if you haven’t done so?

Even if you have a public hospital insurance, do you want to upgrade to a private one?

What about your family members and relatives? If they are affected by hospital bills, you will be affected too.

Have any questions?

Let me know what you think.

Do you think it is important to get an Integrated Shield Plan? If you haven’t done it, will you do it?

You can leave a comment below or contact me. I promise I will reply you.

And if you think that this article is useful, share it with the people around you!

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About Junhao J Tang
Junhao J is a financial consultant, a blogger and founder of

Junhao J has been providing valuable advice – educating people on the importance of financially protecting oneself and saving up or investing for future needs.

Through, he hopes to bring this message to all who stumble upon this blog.

Have you done your CPF nomination? Check out CPF Nomination: 3 Important Reasons Why You Must Do

10 thoughts on “Integrated Shield Plan: Why Medishield Life Coverage Is Not Enough”

  1. According to Strait Times, private healthcare costs have been rising at a rate of 18 per cent a year while public hospitals have seen a 12 per cent increase. This article gives a good illustration on the needs of integrated healthcare.

  2. Thank you for explaining what the key difference between Integrated Shield Plan and MediShield life. Many people especially the old folks think it’s the same. One thing for sure, It’s not the same! Years ago, a mistake done by my Father was to cancel his integrated shield plan thinking it’s the same as Medisave and since it’s compulsory, he canceled the other one. Which was a great mistake. Currently, even he wants to get it again, he is not able to do so anymore! It’s best to get yourself protected be it private hospital or government hospital. Singapore hospital bills are crazy!

    • Yes, some people are not clear about the difference between Medishield Life and Integrated Shield Plans.

      Actually, most people after hearing my explanation for both, they agree that Integrated Shield Plan is worthwhile to get, but of course need to factor in the budget.

    • Thanks Anthony. Actually I met many who have Integrated Shield but they are not sure on what they have.

      The benefits and coverage are very confusing to many.

  3. I think the word is HOLISTIC.

    Knowing what to buy, ie.what you need, is important. Get advice from adviser or expert to evaluate on what is lacking and the area to enhance (and of course based on affordability). Dont anyhow buy and end up having policies that are uselessly overlapping.

    This article provided a simplified and clear explanation of an integrated shield plan.

    Many youngsters who I spoke to usually think that mishap will not happen to them because they lead a healthy lifestyle, they are well mantained, they are still young, etc. No one knows what or when things will happen. Planning early is another key takeaway in this article.

    Talk to the expert, like Junhao.

    • Thanks Poh Beng.

      I agree with what you said – must be able to afford and don’t buy policies that overlap if they don’t serve the purpose.

      I also met young people. It is normal for them to think that they are still young and no health problems, so no need to buy.

      Insurance is always for the future, not now. Illness and hospital visits will usually set in as age increases – by that time, it’s too late to get.

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