Just about every Singaporean knows about the importance of health screenings. After all, catching a serious ailment too late could mean death or huge medical bills. But how much do you really know about health screenings and how much they cost in Singapore? Here’s the low down.
As it turns out, the cost of health screenings in Singapore can vary… quite wildly, actually. Here are some health screening prices compiled from a mix of public hospitals, private hospitals and private clinics.
|Health screening packages
|Basic Package to Comprehensive
|$48 – $338
|Raffles Basic to Raffles Platinum
|$74.90 – $10,000+
|Ng Teng Fong Hospital
|Essential Package to Enhanced A
|$88 – $185
|Singapore General Hospital
|Basic to Enhanced Chronic Disease Assessment
|$363.80 – $749
|Mount Alvernia Hospital
|Prime/ Premier/ Exclusive
|$695.50 – $1,444.50
|LifeScan Medical Centre
|Wellness to Royal Elite
|$218 – $8,453
|Tan Tock Seng Hospital
|Core Screening to Three High Packages
|$200 – $530
|National University Hospital
|Basic to Hepatitis B Screening
|$260 – $530
|Lite to Platinum
|$275 – $1,390
|Thomson Wellth Clinic
|Lite to Platinum Prestige Packages
|$348 – $6,488
|Farrer Park Hospital
|HealthTrack Regular to Premier
|$350 – $1,780
|Classic to Royal Packages
|$350 – $4,500
|Changi General Hospital
|Core, Core 50 Packages
|$360 – $380
|Parkway East Hospital
|Screen Classic to Screen Prestige
|$468 – $6,498
|Live Fuller Premium to Live Fuller Platinum
|$500.76 – $1,806.16
As you can see from this snapshot, a health screening needn’t necessarily be expensive. But, cheaper health screenings tend to have much fewer lab tests and thus might not be as effective at catching diseases.
Ultimately, you should look at what’s in each package and decide if the price is worth it.
Do polyclinics offer health screenings?
You’ll notice that polyclinics are conspicuously absent from the list of health screening packages above. That’s because polyclinics do NOT offer comprehensive health screenings — they only provide health screenings for specific diseases (e.g. diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol).
So you can’t waltz into the nearest polyclinic with no symptoms and ask for a full body check-up. You can, however, request specific screenings for diseases you might be prone to, due to lifestyle or genetics.
If you’re a Singaporean, you can also get super cheap health screenings at GP clinics under the Health Promotion Board’s Screen for Life programme. Depending on what card you hold, you’ll pay no more than $5 for each screening:
|Cost of health screening
|Eligible Singapore Citizens / CHAS (Green)
|CHAS (Blue) / CHAS (Orange)
Again, these are for specific diseases only, not a full-body check-up. Which subsidised health screenings you can go for depend on your age and sex:
|Screen for Life health screenings
|25 years & up (female)
|Cervical cancer (Pap smear)
|40 years & up
|High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cervical cancer
|50 years & up
|All of the above + breast cancer, colorectal cancer
The fee includes necessary screening tests and one follow-up consultation. Singapore PRs are not eligible for these heavy subsidies, but they can get cheaper rates for certain screenings (e.g. $10 for blood cholesterol test) at CHAS clinics.
How much do health screenings cost at public hospitals?
So how much does it actually cost to get a comprehensive health screening that checks for everything, not just one or two diseases?
Most Singaporeans have a lot of faith in public healthcare, so for important procedures like a health screening, many would prefer to go to a public hospital.
However, health screenings are not subsidised because you can’t get a referral from a polyclinic or from A&E. So, they’re not necessarily cheaper than a private clinic. Furthermore, the prices of health screening packages (as well as the component tests in each health screening!) vary a lot from one public hospital to another.
Note: Singapore General Hospital does not have published prices; call to enquire. KK Hospital does not offer health screening packages anymore.
How much do health screenings cost at private hospitals?
Although private hospitals tend to be much pricier than public hospitals in Singapore, there’s a big range in prices when it comes to health screenings. Therefore, private hospital screenings aren’t necessarily more expensive — it depends on what tests you want to include.
As a general rule, private hospital tend to offer packages with more exhaustive lists of tests and screening procedures. That said, basic health screening packages do exist (and at fairly competitive prices too).
How much do health screenings cost at private clinics?
If you thought there was a lot of price variation among the hospitals, wait till you see what it’s like with the clinics. Due to the intense competition, it’s possible to find super cheap health screening packages (under $50!) at a clinic. At the same time, prices can also go up to $300.
Here’s a small sampling of clinics in Singapore to show you the variation in prices:
Which is the cheapest health screening in Singapore?
Our brief survey of the health screening options in Singapore shows that there’s a massive range of prices AND huge differences in what the packages entail.
As we’ve shown, private does NOT necessarily mean more expensive than public when it comes to health screening prices.
The cheapest health screening we found turned out to be the $48 Basic Package at Central Clinic.
But clinics are generally less recognised than big brand names like Raffles Medical and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, so make sure you’re comfortable with that. On the other hand, you might get more personalised service if it’s with, say, your family doctor.
Generally, the more tests a package has, the more expensive it is. Provided you’re still young and healthy, and not genetically predisposed to certain disorders, you may want to opt for one of the super basic health screenings without all the bells and whistles.
However, you’ll probably want to discuss the options with your regular doctor before you commit to a screening, just in case there’s something you didn’t think to look out for.
Can you pay for health screenings with Medisave?
As you can see, going for a comprehensive health screening is not cheap. Unfortunately, you can’t offset general health screenings with Medisave.
Medisave can only be used for a limited range of specific screenings, such as mammograms (only for women aged 50 and up).
If you already have a chronic disease like diabetes or hypertension, you might be able to make claims for screening as part of outpatient treatment.
Can you claim the fees from your health insurance?
Although Integrated Shield Plans are essential for coping with healthcare costs in Singapore, your regular health screenings are generally not covered.
However, certain health insurance plans do offer rewards for going for regular health screenings.
For example, if you’re an AIA policyholder enrolled in the AIA Vitality programme, you can earn points for going to eligible screenings. You can redeem your points for discounts on your insurance premiums.
Health screenings can either be specific or general. If you suspect or are at risk for a specific ailment (say a hereditary disease), most clinics and hospitals have a full list of screening procedures for various ailments which you can pick and choose from.
But if you’ve got nothing in particular in mind, you can go for a general health screening, often known as a comprehensive health screening. This comprises a physical check-up and several medical tests to screen for common conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Every basic health screening package should entail these 4 components, at minimum.
- Medical health assessment: A chat with your doctor to assess your medical history and lifestyle and identify any potential risks you might have.
- Physical examination: The doctor should take your height and weight, measure your BMI and check your vision.
- Blood glucose test: A blood sample is taken after fasting, to test for diabetes.
- Cholesterol (lipid) test: A test for high cholesterol and heart-related diseases, taken after fasting.
Individual hospitals may offer other medical tests in their basic health screening packages. So apart from checking the price, you also need to know what exactly is in the package. Common add-ons include…
- Blood pressure test: The doctor takes your blood pressure to check for hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Urine analysis: Your pee is examined as an indicator of your overall health and proper kidney function.
- Full blood count: A blood sample is examined to determine if you have anaemia.
- ECG (electrocardiogram): Using electrodes placed on your skin, this test records your heart activity and checks for heart conditions.
Some hospitals or clinics will also let you choose some add-ons to your package at a fee, which you should consider if there are particular conditions you are worried about or predisposed to.
How often should you go for a health screening?
Going for health screenings is important as you’ll want to detect diseases as soon as possible — early detection generally makes treatment more effective.
The necessity of a comprehensive health screening really depends on your age, health and family history. When in doubt, ask your doctor what he would recommend.
When you’re young, you won’t need to undergo it every single year. In fact, certain types of screening like mammograms and x-rays can actually be harmful and should not be overdone.
However, after you reach a certain age — and this threshold varies from person to person — annual comprehensive health screenings are a good idea. Your doctor should be able to advise you on what to get screened for and at what age depending on your health and family history.
Don’t be too put off by the prices of screening packages. Not going for a screening and falling sick as a result could end up costing you a lot more in the long run, so when you reach a certain age you definitely want to consider going for a comprehensive health screening more regularly.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.