The healthcare services available in Singapore are either public (government-owned) or private. Both offer high standards of medical care, but may differ in the services offered, service levels (for example, waiting times) and facilities.
The majority of expatriates living in Singapore use private healthcare facilities. Expatriates can use public healthcare facilities, but they are not entitled to government healthcare subsidies.
Before you go
You may need vaccinations or other preventive medicines before you leave for Singapore, particularly if you are also visiting other countries in the region. Your doctor will advise you on which vaccinations you need. He or she will ask you about your general health, what vaccinations you’ve had in the past, which countries and regions you’ll be visiting, and what activities you have planned. See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before you travel to ensure that there is time for your vaccinations to take effect.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Singapore. However, if in the last six days you have been in, or passed through, a country where yellow fever is present, you will need a valid International Certificate of Vaccination for yellow fever. This certificate is proof that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever. It is valid 10 days from the date you were vaccinated and remains valid for 10 years.
It is important to check that any boosters or routine vaccinations are up to date before you travel. This may include diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, (DTP), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), polio.
Outbreaks of dengue fever and chikungunya have been reported in Singapore. Both are viral illnesses transmitted by mosquito bites. Unfortunately, there are no vaccines or medicines to prevent dengue fever or chikungunya. Try to take measures to prevent mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent on exposed skin, wearing long sleeves and trousers, and ensuring there are secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
Malaria is not found in Singapore, so you don’t need to take any preventative medicines. However, talk to your doctor about malaria prevention if you’re planning to travel to other countries in the region.
Fit for Travel website: http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations/asia-(east)/singapore.aspx
Please note, vaccination recommendations are based on the information available at the time of publication. For up to date advice on disease outbreaks in Singapore, visit the Centre for Disease Control website and view the latest travel notices.
Take copies of your medical records with you to Singapore. You can ask for either print or electronic copies from your doctor before you go. Having your records with you will ensure that if you need to see a doctor, he or she will have access to your medical history, including details of any medical conditions, tests, treatments and vaccinations.
If your prescription medicines don’t contain any controlled substances, you can take up to three months’ supply without seeking prior approval from the authorities.
If you plan to take prescription medicines containing controlled substances ( eg, codeine, diazepam, morphine) with you to Singapore, you will need to apply for authorisation from the Health Products Regulation Group (part of the Health Sciences Authority (HSA)) before you travel.
You will also need to take supporting documents to prove that the medicines are for your personal use, for example a letter from a doctor and/or a copy of the prescription.
Further details are available on the HSA website.
Private medical insurance
Healthcare costs in Singapore are relatively high compared to other countries around the world. Private medical insurance is not mandatory for expatriates, but it is recommended. Many employers provide private medical insurance for their employees while they’re abroad.
Dial 995 if you have a life-threatening emergency. This is the telephone number for the government emergency ambulance service which will take you to the nearest public hospital.
You don’t need to have an appointment to get treatment at an accident and emergency (A&E) department . You can either walk in or arrive by ambulance. When you first arrive, you will be assessed. If you have a serious medical problem, you will be seen straightaway, otherwise you may have to wait. It’s not uncommon for waiting times in public A&E departments to exceed two hours.
Therefore, if you have a minor medical problem, you may choose to go to an A&E department in a private hospital.
Bupa Global’s medical centre staff can help Bupa Global members find a suitable emergency hospital or clinic.
In Singapore 80% of primary care (GP care) is provided through private General Practitioners (GPs). The rest is through public polyclinics. There are approximately 2,000 private GPs in Singapore. Most GPs offer a walk-in service, so you don’t have to make an appointment.
Unlike in other countries, you don’t have to register with just one GP, you’re able to visit different GPs. However, it’s recommended that you try to stick with the same GP so that he or she is familiar with your medical history.
Bupa Global’s medical centre staff can help Bupa Global members find a GP. Alternatively, you can find a GP through personal recommendation or via internet and telephone directories.
To see a specialist in Singapore, you don’t need a GP to refer you. You can make an appointment directly with the specialist at a public or private outpatient clinic. However, there are advantages to having a GP referral. Your GP will be able to recommend a specialist for your condition, as well as provide the specialist with relevant information about your medical history, including details of previous test results and treatments.
Bupa Global’s medical centre staff can assist Bupa Global members in finding a suitable specialist.
Alternatively, you can find a specialist by talking to your GP, through personal recommendation or via ‘specialist directories’ available on most hospital websites.
Use Bupa Global's facilities finder to find details of Singapore hospital websites.
There are seven public hospitals in Singapore (run by the Ministry of Health): five general hospitals, a women and children’s hospital, and a psychiatric hospital. The general hospitals provide inpatient and specialist outpatient services, and each has a 24-hour A&E department. There are also six specialist centres for cancer, cardiac, eye, skin, neuroscience and dental care.
Singapore has six main private hospitals. Each has inpatient facilities, outpatient clinics (offering specialist and GP consultations), diagnostic services and 24-hour A&E departments.
Bupa Global has assessed hospitals in Singapore as part of our Hospital Quality programme. The programme is designed to ensure that customers have access to safe, high quality healthcare wherever they are in the world. Find out more about how we evaluate the hospitals.(LINK)
Bupa Global’s medical centre staff can assist Bupa Global members in finding a quality assured hospital or clinic.
On the map below you can see the Bupa Global-recognised hospitals in Singapore and which of these have completed the quality assessment.
Green marker - Bupa Global quality assessment completed
Blue marker - Bupa Global recognised provider
Second opinion service
All Bupa Global members have free access to a second medical opinion service from Advance Medical. A leading expert in the relevant field will thoroughly review your diagnosis and treatment plan.
This service is designed to help you understand:
- what your diagnosis means
- that your diagnosis is correct
- that the proposed treatment is correct
- further available information about your condition
- alternative treatments that may be better for you
Find out more about the second medical opinion service.