Maternity (& Pregnancy) Insurance in Singapore: Guide for 2020

Once you’re pregnant, you’ll certainly face this realisation:

You’re obligated to take care of this soon-to-be-born baby… for the long haul.

Your current priorities and responsibilities need to be adjusted.

Every couple wishes all to go well.

But there’s one uncertainty that would-be mothers have: what’s going to happen when complications arise during pregnancy and after the baby is born.

That’s why this ultimate guide on maternity insurance in Singapore will give you further insights.

Do you really need it?

Let’s find out.

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The Joys of Being Pregnant

insurance for pregnant mothers

First of all, congratulations!

If this is your first pregnancy, it’ll be an exciting journey ahead. It’s not just for the coming months, but for a lifetime after.

The happiness, love, and the not-so-happy times of having a child is all part of life, and what we live for.

If this isn’t your first, then you’re no stranger. But somehow the phrase, “same same, but different” comes into mind.

Every pregnancy is different, but we all want the same: everything to be smooth-sailing.

… can it always happen, though?

What Can Go Wrong During the Maternity Period?

Of course, everything can go “Business As Usual”.

But the truth is, there may be hiccups (some can be severe) along the way.

During a pregnancy, complications may arise. Examples of these are ectopic pregnancies, pre-eclampsia, still-birth, etc…

When these happen, medical treatments need to be administered and monitoring will be done (getting warded), resulting in unexpected costs out-of-pocket.

But that’s not all…

What About After the Baby Is Born? 

prenatal insurance singapore

If in the unfortunate event that your baby is born with any congenital abnormalities (birth defects, etc), not only would there be a need for additional medical treatment, but your child may never get any form of health and life insurance anymore

Fast forwarding to the future, that might not be a good situation.

Why? When she grows up, starts to earn an income and supports the family, she may have the same exact thoughts you’re having right now – protecting against the unexpected.

But this is the hard truth: she may be unable to get any coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

For now, let’s not think so far ahead.

How about a couple years down the road after the baby is born?

Things like Bronchitis, Hand Food Mouth Diseases (HFMD) are not unheard of. And these may not be covered by the regular health insurance. So you may have to fork out your hard-earned money to pay for the medical bills.

No one wants that…

3 Reasons Why Your Regular Health Insurance May Not Be Enough

In Singapore, the regular health insurance available are MediShield Life and its upgrade, the Integrated Shield Plan.

With regards to pregnancy, here are 3 reasons why they might be inadequate.

1) Long Waiting Periods

If you intend to upgrade or purchase an Integrated Shield Plan (IP) to get some form of coverage because you’re already pregnant or planning to get pregnant, there’s a long waiting period.

​A typical waiting period for pregnancy complication coverage under the IP can take 10 months so it’s likely your planned birth will not be covered.

This wouldn’t apply if you have already upgraded your IP and have satisfied the waiting period.

However, such coverage for pregnancy complications are limited.

2) Limited Coverage for Pregnancy Complications

Even if you have satisfied the waiting period, the coverage is usually very limited, covering only a few complications at most

It’s because that kind of medical insurance is not geared for maternity.

3) Don’t Cover the Newborn Baby

In my opinion, this is the most important part.

Firstly, your health insurance won’t cover the newborn baby. If anything happens to the baby, then you would need to fork out additional cash to pay the bills.

Secondly, you can’t apply for health insurance for the unborn baby.

This effectively puts you in no man’s land.

Because if you apply for an integrated shield plan for a baby with abnormalities, there’s a high possibility that the application will be not be approved.

Even if everything seems fine, there is still a long waiting period for congenital anomalies coverage, which could take 12-24 months.

So, what then?

A maternity insurance can bridge this “void”.

What Is a Maternity/Pregnancy/Prenatal Insurance?

what is maternity insurance

Call it whatever you want, maternity insurance, pregnancy insurance, prenatal insurance… 

They all mean the same.

It helps to cover the gap if mishaps and complications like those mentioned above were to happen.

Because regular health insurance may not cover pregnancy complications well, a maternity insurance can provide a lump sum payout to offset additional medical costs.

The policy can also provide a daily hospital cash benefit for the mother and child when the need of being warded arises.

But most importantly, having this plan would allow the newborn to have an easier pathway to getting life insurance coverage after birth (even with pre-existing medical conditions).

This policy is a one-time payment, and comes either as a standalone plan or bundled together with other plans.

Maternity Plans That Cover Normal Delivery Costs vs Those That Do Not

There are 2 distinct types of pregnancy insurance: one that covers even the normal delivery costs and the other, only when complications arise. 

Yes, being able to cover almost all your delivery costs even when nothing goes wrong sounds good.

But is it necessary?

These plans usually come with long waiting periods of up to 24 months. It’ll mean that you need to pay at least 2 years of premiums, and only then, the policy would become “active”.

In addition, the premiums are not cheap at all and can cost several hundreds per month.

And on top of that…

It does not mean that if you want to get pregnant, you can do so easily.

For example, if you’ve waited 2 years for the waiting period, and only get pregnant 1 to 2 years after that, you would have forked out a lot more. And if you happen to get pregnant before the 2 years waiting period, the delivery costs may not be covered, diminishing the effectiveness of the plan.

If you’re already pregnant, this option should be out already. Even if you’re not, can you even wait that long? That uncertainty might not be worth it.

So you may be better off to save and just pay for your normal delivery costs out-of-pocket.

And is the reason why most people go for the second option (covering for just complications) and that’s the focus in this article.

What Can Be Covered?

Although the list of conditions covered differs from company to company, there are 4 main categories which one can claim from: 

  1. Pregnancy Complications for the Mother
  2. Hospital Cash Benefit for the Mother
  3. Congenital Illnesses for the Child
  4. Hospital Cash Benefit for the Child

Additional benefits:

  • Death Benefit for the Mother or Child, or both.
  • The option to purchase or transfer life insurance coverage when the baby is born (even with medical conditions)

What Is Not Covered?

As usual, any other conditions not listed in the plan and normal delivery costs will not be covered.

Get a comparison of the best maternity insurance in Singapore here.

Is It Worth It to Get a Pregnancy Insurance?

So it boils down to this: is a pregnancy insurance necessary?

Here are some pointers to help in your decision:

The 2 Disadvantages

1) Most maternity plans come bundled

To be able to get the maternity coverage, you’ll need to purchase another plan – usually an endowment plan, whole life insurance or ILP. 

This may or may not be transferred to the newborn baby, depending on the type of plan applied for.

There are 2 ways to see this…

Firstly, if you just want a maternity plan, you’re restricted and you’ll need to also decide which bundled plan to get.

Secondly, although it may seem like the bundled plan is something that you may not need and is deemed extra, it does have its uses.

It could be a disciplined form of savings for the child, additional protection for the parents, or the transfer of life insurance coverage to the newborn (even if the newborn is born with conditions). Those have to be addressed sooner or later anyway.

It can also be a good time to review your portfolio and get your priorities straighten out.

There are maternity plans that come as a standalone. But they do have a downside to them: if you wish get life insurance coverage for the newborn, some form of health underwriting will still be needed.

2) Does not cover normal delivery costs 

Like mentioned, the costs to deliver a baby when there are no complications will be fully borne by you. 

But isn’t this what insurance is about?

Only insuring when the undesirable happens – making the uncertainty become a certainty.

It may be more effective to just “self-insure” by saving up to pay for these delivery costs (which you can also use your CPF MediSave to pay part of it).

benefits of maternity insurance

The 4 Advantages

1) Covers items that aren’t usually covered

Nobody wants an overlap in their insurance portfolio or to over-insure themselves. 

That’s why maternity insurance forms a great bridge.

It is entirely unique and you wouldn’t be able to find such cover in other insurance plans (except in IPs; coverage is still limited).

2) It’s affordable 

Depending on age, this insurance for pregnant mothers is a one-time premium that varies. It could be from $300-$1000. 

It forms a cheap stepping stone to get some form of coverage.

3) Get coverage as early as 13 weeks into the pregnancy

Unlike regular health insurance, there are no waiting periods for a prenatal insurance (note: we’re still not talking about those that cover normal delivery costs). 

You can apply for it as early as 13 weeks into the pregnancy.

This is a good pointer because health underwriting still needs to be done. Being able to apply early when there are no known complications increase your chances of getting accepted.

4) Increased insurability of the newborn

In Singapore or any part of the world, one wouldn’t be able to buy whatever insurance they want even though they have the money for it. 

Those who have medical conditions – even just a minor one – and have applied for insurance before knows how much of a hassle it can be.

Thankfully, if you’ve purchased a maternity plan, the newborn baby might not need to be subjected to comprehensive underwriting. And thus, have a higher chance to get cover after. 

Summary of Pros and Cons

ProsCons
1.Covers items that aren’t usually coveredUsually bundled with another plan
2.It’s affordableDelivery costs not covered
3.Get coverage as early as 13 weeks into the pregnancy
4.Increased insurability of the newborn

Other Important Areas to Consider

With a newborn, there’ll be greater financial commitments.

Apart from maternity insurance, there are other considerations.

Firstly, with another addition to the family, you’ll need to provide more in terms of finance – greater expenses, catering for future needs, etc.

This places an emphasis on the income you’re earning. If anything happens to that income, then it’ll all go downhill. So ensure that you have adequate life insurance coverage. One of the best ways is to get yourself protected with a term insurance.

Secondly, once the baby is born, do make provisions to apply for the regular health insurance (MediShield Life and the Integrated Shield Plan). This ensures that proper and comprehensive medical insurance coverage is in place. You’re able to apply once the newborn is 2 weeks old.

Thirdly, most parents would apply for a whole life insurance plan for the baby at the same time. This is because the cost of insurance will be at the lowest and it can be a gift (with cash value) when the child turns independent. If you already have the maternity plan, you can transfer the bundled whole life plan or apply for one (with reduced health underwriting requirements).

Lastly, one of the greater financial commitments is to provide for the kid’s education, especially for university. The costs are significant and it takes a while to save up for. So if possible, you should start early. Consider plans such as endowments that offer guaranteed payouts.

What’s Next?

Hopefully by now, you would’ve found this article useful. 

Whether you think a maternity plan makes sense or not, you would have a better idea now.

If you’re still on the fence or are interested to know more about pregnancy insurance in Singapore, take the first step by comparing.

Find the best maternity insurance here.

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