7 Worrying Critical Illness Statistics in Singapore (Updated 2020)

Looking for statistics on critical illness in Singapore?

Well, look no further.

In this page, we’ve compiled the various facts and figures to give you further insights on critical illness in Singapore.

And it’ll be updated from time to time.

Read on!

A Primer on Critical Illness

The term “critical illness” or “CI” has different meanings depending on what you’re searching for.

In this article, we’re not looking at the chronic diseases – high cholesterol, high blood, diabetes, etc – but more to the 37 critical illnesses defined by the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA).

The definitions to these critical illnesses are standardised across the industry to provide greater transparency. Do take note that these CIs are towards the later-stages of an illness.

Here’s the list of critical illnesses:

37 critical illnesses

Come August 2020, these definitions will change, but it wouldn’t be too far off from the current framework.

With that, let’s look at the stats on critical illness.

1) Critical Illnesses Contribute to More Than 60% of All Deaths

The World Health Organisation did a study and the results showed that the 2 main causes of death – cardiovascular diseases and cancer – contribute to 61% of all deaths in Singapore.

causes of death

In contrast, the number of deaths from horrific car accidents and the like, only contributes to 5%.

The Ministry of Health has also produced its own statistics on the principal causes of death:

causes of death
CausePercentage of Deaths
Cancer28.8%
Pneumonia20.6%
Ischaemic heart diseases18.1%
Cerebrovascular diseases (including stroke)6%
External causes of morbidity and mortality4.3%
Hypertensive diseases (including hypertensive heart disease)3%
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome & nephrosis3%
Other heart diseases2.1%
Urinary tract infection2%
Chronic obstructive lung disease1.3%
Diabetes Mellitus1.3%

As you can see, cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore at 28.8%.

This is why cancer has always been the hottest topic as the most common critical illness out there.

It’s something you have to pay attention to.

2) 1 in Every 4 to 5 Singaporeans May Get A Critical Illness

What’s the probability of getting a critical illness in Singapore?

While it’s hard to put a number to sum up the probabilities of all critical illnesses, let’s just look at cancer for now.

From the statistics on cancer, about 38 Singaporeans are diagnosed with it each day. And every day, 15 Singaporeans die from it.

Adding another perspective, the lifetime risk of contracting cancer is 1 for every 4-5 people in Singapore.

Take note that this is just for 1 out of 37 critical illnesses…

Although cancer cases do form the bulk of CI cases, if you factor in the rest, the chances of getting a CI could be higher.

3) The Cost of Treating a Critical Illness Can Cost $100,000 to $200,000 per Year

Contracting a CI is not the least of your worries.

The next biggest worry is whether you’re able to pay for the treatments.

With a high medical inflation rate of 10%, the cost of medical treatments are going to be expensive.

And these treatments may last for a prolonged period.

Zooming into cancer again, there are various ways to treat it – surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. And there’s still a constant need for diagnostic tests year after year.

For late stage cancers, the costs of cancer treatments can be $100,000 to $200,000 per year.

cancer treatment cost singapore

But there’s also another cost – the cost of not being able to work.

Your income is used for many other things such as daily expenses, future commitments and goals.

If you’re unable to work because of an illness, who’s going to pay for them? Can your family cope?

So it’s also important to be able to replace your income if a CI happens.

4) Critical Illness Accounts for 49.7% of All Life Insurance Claims

In life insurance, there are 3 main types of coverages – death, total and permanent disability, and critical illness.

In an analysis we did, critical illness accounted for 49.7% of life insurance claims. Death claims at 47.5%; TPD claims at only 2.8%.

life insurance claims

CI claims exceeded death claims by a small margin…

However, if you factor in the causes of these death claims (a majority are caused by critical illnesses too), you’ll realise that CI plays a huge role in both CI AND death claims.

5) More than 90% of CI Claims Come From Only 5 Illnesses

While there are 37 critical illnesses in the LIA framework, are they all important?

Turns out that only a few matter.

These are the 5 CIs that make up most of the CI claims (90%):

  • Major Cancers
  • Heart Attack of Specified Severity
  • Coronary Artery By-pass Surgery
  • Stroke
  • Kidney Failure

But it’s even more disproportionate than that.

We did a analysis on 36 months of life insurance claims and found a few interesting things…

causes of critical illness claims

Cancer accounts for a huge majority of the CI claims, which further supports the fact that cancer is the top critical illness in Singapore.

And is also the reason why cancer-related benefits from early critical illness plans are important as the likelihood of it happening is higher.

Therefore, although it’s good to have a policy that covers 100+ conditions, only a few truly matter.

6) Most CI Claims Happen From Age 51 to 55

It is given that death claims usually happen at a later age.

How about critical illness claims then?

ages of ci claims

From our analysis, most critical illness claims happen from age 51 to 55.

And the bulk of claims happen from age 40 to 65. So, that can indicate a period where critical illness coverage comes in handy.

7) The Average Critical Illness Claim is $52,343.37

We now know that the chances of contracting a CI is high.

And the costs to treat it are correspondingly high too.

While hospitalisation plans (when it’s upgraded) pay out a substantial amount of the medical bills, the cost of not being able to work remains.

That’s when critical illness coverage comes in.

It comes in the form of a rider that you can attach to a term insurance or a whole life insurance. And there are also standalone critical illness plans that primarily cover for CI.

They pay out a lump sum when a CI happens. This money can then be used to “replace” your income during recovery and/or not being able to work.

Why is this important? It’s because most Singaporeans may be under-insured.

From the study on life insurance claims we did, we’ve found out that the average CI claims payout is $52,343.37.

average ci claim

And for those that have more than $100,000 CI coverage, a majority of claims are in the $100,000 to $200,000 region.

ci claims payout

Which leads to this question: “do you think that this amount is enough?”

Wrapping Up

Knowing the importance of critical illness is one thing.

What are you going to do about it? Are you sufficiently covered right now?

Try out our life insurance (including critical illness) calculator to estimate how much coverage you should have.

And if you wish to know more, check out the different types of critical illness coverage out there.

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