The Average Hospital Bill Size in Singapore: Can You Afford It?

The cost of healthcare in Singapore is high, and it’s getting more costly.

How expensive is it now?

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • the average hospital bill size in Singapore
  • various examples of the cost of hospitalisation (including cancer treatments)
  • ways to finance such medical bills
  • .. and many more

So, read on!

Too Long; Didn’t Read

The average bill size of medical specialties:

  • Public hospitals: $1,012 to 7,876
  • Private hospitals: $3,906 to $24,687

The average bill size of surgical specialties:

  • Public hospitals: $1,638 to 10,541
  • Private hospitals: $8,109 to $18,993

Quick Overview: The Healthcare in Singapore

Singaporeans are living longer.

In fact, the average life expectancy is 81 years for males and 85.4 years for females.

Unfortunately, more are spending longer periods in ill health. There are more cancer cases now then ever before.

And chronic diseases such as diabetes are trending up.

To make matters worse…

The costs for medical treatments are rapidly increasing at 10% per year.

Are you confident that your financial resources can withstand the impact of huge medical bills?

Let’s find out.

The Top 10 Causes of Hospital Admissions

Anything can happen.

And the hospital is usually the first place to be at.

Think about it:

Be it death, some form of disability, an illness or an accident, one would almost definitely be seen at the hospital first.

So here are the top 10 reasons for being warded in a hospital (most recently published data):

2016 (%)2017 (%)2018 (%)
Accident, poisoning and violence8.38.48.6
Cancer5.95.95.8
Pneumonia3.23.33.2
Ischaemic heart diseases3.13.23.1
Intestinal infectious diseases2.82.62.7
Other heart diseases2.52.52.5
Infections of the skin and subcutaneous tissue2.12.12.3
Diabetes mellitus1.71.82.1
Cerebrovascular diseases (including stroke)1.81.92.0
Acute upper respiratory infections1.92.11.9

If you add up the percentages of the 10 reasons in 2018, it amounts to only 34.2%.

So other reasons not indicated in the table make up the rest of the 65.8%.

Meaning?

There’s a huge variety of reasons – big or small – as to why you would end up in the hospital. It can be anything.

So if were to find yourself in a clinically smelling place of a hospital (touch wood), then one thought naturally comes up:

“How much do I need to pay?”

Before we go into the actual amounts, let’s look at what types of costs are involved.

The Different Types of Costs in a Hospital

The type of hospital matters a lot – whether it’s a private or a public hospital.

The number of patients in a ward matters too – the higher the number, the cheaper it should be.

The costs will be substantially higher in a private hospital but both types do have similar cost structures.

In a nutshell, they can be broadly categorised into outpatient and inpatient costs.

Outpatient care is when someone receives treatment that doesn’t require hospital stays.

Here are some examples of outpatient treatments:

  • specialist consultation
  • diagnostic tests like x-rays
  • health checks
  • etc

As outpatient treatments don’t usually take up much resources and are usually minor, they tend to cost less.

In inpatient treatments, hospital admissions are usually required.

But you don’t need to be warded to be considered an inpatient. Day-surgeries are closely tied with inpatient treatments.

Here are some examples of inpatient treatments:

  • room and board
  • doctor and nurses’ care
  • surgeries
  • etc

As inpatient treatments require more resources from the hospital and may include more complex procedures, the costs are generally higher.

The Average Hospital Bill Size in Singapore

Healthcare costs are known to be expensive in Singapore.

And behind every patient’s mind is the worry that they can’t pay the bills.

Although information on the average hospital bill in Singapore is not readily available, it takes some digging and research to get a glimpse.

(The following idea came from Seedly so credits to them)

Hospital costs can be broken down into 2 distinct sections: public hospitals (and the different classes) and private ones.

And in each hospital, they are further broken down to medical and surgical specialties.

Although the following data is from 2015, that’s the latest publicly available information.

Public hospitals

Cost of Medical specialties for Public hospitals 

* Exclude KK and National Heart Centre due to outliers

ClassAvg Cost/DayAvg BillTop 10% Paid More ThanTop 5% Paid More Than
A$1,142 – $1,412$3,844 – $7,459$6,626 – $15,464$11,485 – $24,873
B1$780 – $1,094$2,830 – $7,876$6,176 – $18,334$10,867 – $28,041
B2$192 – $439$1,178 – $3,380$2,354 – $6,494$3,434 – $10,389
C$129 – $319$1,012 – $2,599$1,988 – $5,478$2,973 – $8,466

In short: The average bill for medical specialities in public hospitals can be $1,012 to 7,876.

Cost of Surgical specialties for Public hospitals 

* Exclude KK and National Heart Centre due to outliers

ClassAvg Cost/DayAvg BillTop 10% Paid More ThanTop 5% Paid More Than
A$1,372 – $2,788$5,044 – $10,541$10,114 – $22,290$14,923 – $30,292
B1$1,268 – $2,509$4,629 – $9,922$10,096 – $20,242$15,846 – $28,153
B2$529 – $760$1,824 – $3,393$4,358 – $6,962$5,845 – $9,819
C$357 – $523$1,638 – $3,775$3,716 – $8,200$5,222 – $12,684

In short: The average bill for surgical specialities in public hospitals can be $1,638 to 10,541.

Private hospitals 

Cost of Medical specialties for Private hospitals

*Exclude John Hopkins due to outlier

ClassAvg Cost/DayAvg BillTop 10% Paid More ThanTop 5% Paid More Than
Private$1,327 – $5,310$3,906 – $24,687$7,670 – $38,811$9,521 – $73,287

In short: The average bill for medical specialities in private hospitals can be $3,906 to $24,687.

Cost of Surgical specialties for Private hospitals 

*Exclude John Hopkins due to outlier

ClassAvg Cost/DayAvg BillTop 10% Paid More ThanTop 5% Paid More Than
Private$3,340 – $7,053$8,109 – $18,993$12,626 – $36,147$14,749 – $46,194

In short: The average bill for surgical specialities in private hospitals can be $8,109 to $18,993.

Without insurance, these are the sort of the hospitalisation costs you’ll need to bear.

Now what you’re seeing is the broader picture of the average cost.

Of course, a lot of factors come into play when determining the actual costs.

And one of the biggest factors is the reason behind the treatment needed:

  • Is it for giving birth?
  • Treating cancer?
  • A minor procedure like treating a cut?

So if you wish to look at detailed cost breakdowns of common treatments, you can visit MOH’s website here. They keep updated records of bill sizes of several treatments for both private and public hospitals (according to ward types).

Let’s zoom into one of the most common critical illnesses in Singapore.

Example: The Medical Cost of Treating Cancer

Starting off with some statistics on cancer

How common is it? 38 people are delivered the bad news every day.

Here are the top 10 types of cancers being diagnosed in Singapore:

top cancers singapore

And every day, 15 people die because of it (the no. 1 cause of death in Singapore).

If you’re not convinced as to why cancer (and critical illness) is so crucial, take a look at a study we did on actual life insurance claims statistics over a period of 36 months.

causes of critical illness claims
causes of death claim

Basically, you can see that cancer is the most common cause of critical illness AND death claims.

Anyways…

Cancer treatments typically consists of diagnostic tests, surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and for a prolonged period.

The costs for cancer treatments can vary greatly and is mainly dependent on the stage and type of cancer one has.

For example, to treat late stage cancer, it can cost $100,000 to $200,000 yearly.

cancer treatment cost singapore

That’s a lot of money.

Right now, do you have excess cash to pay for these treatments?

That’s why a medical insurance is so important because it can substantially cover the bill.

The moral of the story is this:

The thought of getting cancer is frightening. But the nightmare gets worse thinking about the cost of treatments without having sufficient insurance to back it up.

Other Examples of Hospitalisation Costs

Heart-Related Conditions

Other than cancer, heart attack is another common cause for a critical illness claim.

It usually happens if there’s a blockage in the artery caused by fat, cholesterol, or other substances.

One of the procedures to reduce/eliminate this blockage is to do a heart bypass aka coronary artery bypass surgery.

This allows the redirection of blood around the blocked or partially blocked artery.

Here’s an example of the average bill size for heart bypass:

Type of TreatmentType of HospitalAverage Bill Size
Heart BypassPrivate$81.338
Public (Unsubsidised)$38,251
Public (Subsidised)$8,312

Stroke

There are 5 critical illnesses that represent more than 90% of all CI claims

Stroke is one of them.

It happens when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted or there’s bleeding in the brain.

In most cases, it’s caused by the former. Without the oxygen in the blood, the brain cells can die within minutes.

Here’s an example of the average bill size for stroke:

Type of TreatmentType of HospitalAverage Bill Size
StrokePrivate$23,335
Public (Unsubsidised)$7,804
Public (Subsidised)$2,601

Reducing the Risk of Paying Huge Medical Bills

While hospital bills can bleed your savings account, there are several ways to reduce this risk.

1) MediShield Life

If you’re a Singapore Citizen or a Permanent Resident, you’ll be automatically covered under MediShield Life. It is compulsory and you won’t be able to opt out from it.

It can cover pre-existing conditions too.

However, the coverage for this national healthcare scheme is basic and is only targeted to B2/C wards.

2) Integrated Shield Plans

You’re able to upgrade your MediShield Life coverage with an Integrated Shield Plan (IP) which is provided by a private insurer.

Benefits offered by such plans include coverage for private hospitals, “as charged” coverage, pre and post hospitalisation costs, etc.

Basically, it is much more comprehensive.

3) Other Government Assistance

If a patient is still unable to pay for the medical bills after MediShield Life and using MediSave, he/she can request for help from the MediFund.

There is also the Medication Assistance Fund, which provides further subsidies to eligible Singaporeans for drugs that are not in the Standard Drug List.

Covering Medical Costs Only Solves 50% of the Problem

Paying the hospital bills only solves half of the problem.

Why?

Sure, you may be able to pay the bills but what if you don’t recover fast? Are you still able to work?

If not, how would you pay for other stuffs such as monthly expenses and other commitments?

That’s when life insurance comes in to replace the loss of income.

Do you think you have enough life insurance coverage right now? If not, get an estimate of how much coverage you should have.

Wrapping Up

Although hospitalisation costs can hit your savings hard, most Singaporeans don’t need to worry that much.

With proper insurance coverage, that risk can be well mitigated.

That’s because of the national healthcare scheme: MediShield Life and its ability to be enhanced.

If you’re not aware of what it is, take some time to learn more about MediShield Life and its upgrade, Integrated Shield Plan, now.

Abram Lim

With over 7 years of experience in the financial advisory industry, and previous stints in Citibank and UOB, Abram eagerly shares his knowledge by publishing research-backed articles. Learn more about Abram