Life Insurance

Average Cost of Living With a Disability in Singapore

Living with a disability can come with a myriad of challenges. Not only can it be a struggle to do the same things with the same relative ease as an able-bodied person, but the extra financial cost can be a burden. In fact, 83% of Singaporeans surveyed by Aviva stated that they have concerns about the cost of long-term disability care. So how much can you expect to spend on disability mobility devices and other home aids? We calculate the average cost below.

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How Much Does It Cost to Live With a Disability?

If the disability is manageable (for instance, you or your loved one doesn't need continual assistance), then you can expect a one-time outlay S$373 for a cane and supportive aids like grab bars and a shower chair. However, if you or your loved one is incapable of performing multiple Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)—washing, toileting, dressing, feeding, mobility and transferring—then you can expect to pay an average of S$12,500 per year for 24/7 live-in care via a foreign domestic worker and a one-time cost of S$2,958-S$4,712 for the purchase of necessary equipment like wheelchairs, ramps, grab bars and hospital beds. This results in a total first year cost of S$15,458-S$17,212 before you consider any medical costs.

Average Cost of Mobility Aids

Depending on the type of disability you have, you may need a mobility device, such as a cane, walker or wheelchair. If you only need a cane, then the average cost you can expect to pay is S$45-S$88. On the other hand, a basic wheelchair will run you 2-4.4x more, at an average cost of S$199-326. Wheelchairs also come at a range of costs depending on the type of chair. For instance, non-motorised chairs will cost between S$200-S$330. On the other hand, motorised wheelchairs have an average cost of just over S$2,000.

Mobility AidAverage Cost *
CaneS$61.40
CrutchesS$113.50
WalkerS$149.50
Wheelchair/Pushchair (non-motorised)S$262.00
Motorised WheelchairS$2,016.10
Electric ScooterS$1,890.00
RampsS$282.70
* Averages taken from 4 main senior and mobility aid stores: Pharmex, Golden Concepts, Senior Care & Falcon

Average Cost of Living Aids

Living aids can become a necessity if you or a family is permanently disabled and needs assisted living. If a person is independent enough to have none or minimal supervision, but needs to adjust their home to accommodate their disability, then living aids such as ramps, bath grab bars and safety rails are necessary to reduce the risk of accidents. Simple fixtures like grab bars and bathroom safety rails are the cheapest, costing between S$80-85 on average. On the other hand, complex fixtures like commodes and hospital beds can cost hundreds of dollars. Hospital beds are the most expensive, costing an average of S$1,632.50 per bed.

Living AidAverage Cost
Bath Grab BarsS$80.90
Bathroom Safety RailsS$84.30
Shower ChairS$146.70
CommodesS$407.70
Hospital BedS$1,632.50
* Averages taken from 3 main senior and mobility aid stores: Pharmex, Golden Concepts, Senior Care

Average Cost of Rentals

If you have a temporary disability, you may find it cheaper to rent your equipment. The average cost of renting a wheelchair typically S$150 per week, although you can find rentals as cheap as S$15. For hospital beds, you can expect to pay S$200 per month and for machines like feeding pumps and oxygen concentrators, you'll pay an average of S$120 per month.

Average Cost of Home Care

For long-term disability care, you may need to get another person to assist you or your loved one. We found that the average cost of an independent caregiver from Caregiver Asia is between S$15-S$25 per hour. If you are looking for a caregiver from NTUC or AIC, then you unsubsidised rates range between S$20 per hour to S$125 per hour. Depending on how long the nurse needs to be present, it may be cheaper to go with AIC, who charges based on the visit rather than the per hour that NTUC and independent home nurses charge. If you or your loved one needs constant care, then you may need to get a live-in caregiver. For this, you may need to hire a foreign domestic worker, which can easily cost at least S$12,500 per year.

ServiceAICNTUC Health
Meals on WheelsS$4.80-S$6.96 per mealN/A
Home Personal CareS$20/hourS$22/hour
Home NursingS$80/visitS$125/hour
Home TherapyS$116/visitS$134/hour
Home Medical ServiceS$170/visitS$288/visit
Interim Caregiver ServiceN/AS$675/day
Prices are before subsidies

For basic services like meals on wheels, you can expect to pay between S$4.80-S$6.96 per meal before subsidies. Personal care is also one of the cheaper home care options, costing between S$20-S$22 per hour before subsidies are applied. On the other hand, home therapy and home medical services cost between 45%-130% more than personal care and nursing visits due to the higher complexity and need of medical equipment. Thankfully, you can save up to 80% on these costs if you qualify for subsidies.

How to Save When Living With a Disability

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While it can be expensive to live with a disability, there are schemes and subsidies available that can reduce your or your loved one's cost of care. For instance, subsidies for home care and day care fees go up to 80% if you are a Singapore citizen or up to 55% if you are a permanent resident and are earning less than S$2,800 per month. There are also subsidies for nursing home fees, ranging up to 75% and 50% for citizens and PR, respectively. There are also government grants that can help reduce the costs of a live-in caregivers. For a full list of healthcare schemes and subsidies that are available to people with disabilities and the elderly, you can visit the Ministry of Health's website. When it comes to saving on equipment, then you should look for sales. It is possible to save a few hundred dollars on expensive purchases like motorised wheelchairs by simply checking out different stores online.

Subsidies on Day Care and Home Care Fees

Monthly IncomeCitizen SubsidyPermanent Resident Subsidy

$800 and below
80%55%
$801 – $1,20075%50%
$1,201 – $1,90060%40%
$1,901 – $2,00050%30%
$2,001 – $2,80030%15%
$2,801 and above0%0%
Source: NTUC

Furthermore, it's important to note that if you do become disabled, you have coverage through CareShield, which will provide a monthly stipend starting at S$600 to help you manage your expenses. Furthermore, we recommend getting private health insurance as a contingency plan to save on health care costs. Private health insurance like Integrated Shield Plans offer full coverage for hospitalisations and certain treatments as well as mobility aid benefits that can help you offset your medical costs significantly. The last thing you can do is also protect yourself with a life insurance policy. In the event you become totally and permanently disabled, your beneficiaries will receive a payout that can help them pay for your needs.

Anastassia Evlanova

Anastassia is a Senior Research Analyst at ValueChampion Singapore, evaluating insurance products for consumers based on quantitative and qualitative financial analysis. She holds degrees in Economics and International Business Management and her prior working experience includes work in the capital markets sector. Her analyses surrounding insurance, healthcare, international affairs and personal finance has been featured on AsiaOne, Business Insider, DW, Vice, Her World, Asia Insurance Review, the Australian Institute of International Affairs and more.