24-Hour Clinic or Hospital A&E: A Guide to Costs & Care in Singapore

Looking to know when to go to a hospital A&E or a 24-hour clinic? Our guide breaks down the differences for a health emergency.

doctor a&E 24 hour medical emergency

Whether it’s a high fever that’s kept you up all night or a bone that you think might be broken, you’ve likely asked yourself: do I need to go to the emergency room? In some cases, Hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) is the appropriate place to go for treatment, but in many other instances, it is actually better to seek out timely and quality care at a 24-hour general practitioner (GP) clinic. Read ahead to learn the differences between a hospital A&E and 24-hour clinic, from costs to care.

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24-Hour Clinics in Singapore

There are more than 1,800 GP clinics in Singapore that provide a range of medical services from outpatient medical treatment to health screening and education. Of these, a few are clinics that are open 24 hours of the day, much like a hospital A&E would be. But unlike a hospital A&E, 24-hour clinics are equipped to holistically address your and your family’s health besides treating minor emergencies.

Examples of 24-Hour Clinic Healthcare Services

Outpatient Medical TreatmentCoughs, colds, headaches, minor burns, stains
Minor Surgical ProceduresWound dressing, drainage of abscess
Diagnosis & Prevention of Chronic DiseasesHypertension, diabetes, stroke, asthma, anxiety
Women, Men and Child HealthPap smear, STD/HIV screening, maternity care, male pattern baldness
VaccinationsH1N1, tetanus, childhood vaccination
Health Screening and EducationBlood count, clinical measurements, lipid profiles, urinalysis

Above all, your GP clinic is designed to assist you with the management of chronic health issues and prevention of illness and disease. Instead of waiting for a health concern to arise (that would require the attention of a hospital A&E), you can save money and your health by being proactive and seeking care from a clinic.

24-Hour Clinic Fees and Other Costs

When you visit a 24-hour clinic, you will have to pay a consultation fee to see a doctor for your medical issue. As a rule of thumb, consultation fees do not include tests, treatment, referrals or medicine. Below, we’ve compared the consultation fee of a lower budget 24-hour clinic to a higher budget one.

TimeRaffles 24 Hour ClinicMount Alverna 24 Hour Clinic
WeekdaysMonday to FridayMonday to Saturday
8 am to 6 pmS$28.34S$74.12
6 pm to 12 amS$41.42S$88.29
12 am to 8 amS$87.20S$105.73
WeekendsSaturday and SundayOnly Sunday
8 am to 6 pmS$50.14S$88.29
6 pm to 12 amS$50.14S$88.29
12 am to 8 amS$87.20S$105.73
Public Holidays
8 am to 6 pmS$50.14S$99.19
6 pm to 12 amS$50.14S$99.19
12 am to 8 amS$87.20S$117.72

Figures represent a minimum charge to the patient for standard consultations. Please refer to clinic websites for further costs, like extended consultations and practice costs

As shown by the two examples above, a clinic consultation fee varies. The fee greatly depends on the certification of your general practitioner, duration of the consultation, and the time of day and week that you seek out medical services.

While Singaporeans are covered by Medishield Life, this basic health insurance scheme is designed to cover large hospital bills and costly outpatient treatments in public hospitals, not medical expenses from private GP 24-hour clinics. However, some private health insurers have a panel of GP clinics which can help to offset a pricey consultation fee.

Similarly, you may qualify for government subsidies that assist you with the upfront costs of some private practice health services, like chronic disease management or dental care. For instance, under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP), you can use your MediSave account to cover 15% of the copayment for the treatment of a chronic illness at a 24-hour clinic.

When To Go To A 24-Hour GP Clinic

Before you decide to go to the emergency room for your injury or illness, you should first consider the urgency of your condition. It’s best to go to a 24-hour clinic if you can determine that your health issue is not life-threatening.

For example, maybe you’ve slammed a door on your finger and are dealing with the onset of swelling and pain. While uncomfortable, this injury would likely not be considered a medical emergency. However, if you want a professional opinion or treatment, your best option is a 24-hour clinic where your general practitioner can treat your wound in-house and direct you to a specialist for further care, if needed.

For more information on where to find your nearest local 24-hour clinic, please visit the Ministry of Health website.

Related: Average Cost and Benefits of Health Insurance

Hospital A&E in Singapore

patient in hospital critical illness health insurance
Source: Unsplash

A&E hospital visits should be reserved for accidents and emergencies only. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s recommended that you do not visit the hospital for non-urgent conditions, so as to conserve resources for those who are facing life-threatening medical issues. In fact, if the hospital A&E determines that your sickness or injury does not require immediate care, then they will likely ask you to wait or redirect you to a clinic for treatment.

A&E Charges and Other Fees

In case of an emergency, you’ll be directed to your nearest public hospital, in which high medical expenses will be covered by MediShield Life (not including the ambulance) or your private health insurance. Further, you can expect an A&E fee that covers your doctor’s consultation, nursing care and treatment, basic tests, and standard medication up to one week’s supply.

Hospital NameA&E Fee
KK Women’s & Children’s HospitalS$148
Tan Tock Seng HospitalS$140
Singapore General HospitalS$154
Changi General HospitalS$150
Ng Teng Fong General HospitalS$141
National University HospitalS$140
Khoo Teck Puat HospitalS$148.50

For some cases without a clear cut A&E fee, you may be charged a specialist consultation fee that depends on the credentials of your doctor, much like a 24-hour clinic. Additionally, you will find varying rates that depend on your citizenship status and whether you are eligible for government subsidies. In general, Singaporean citizens will be charged the lowest consultation fees.

For a first-time consultation, senior consultants charge almost 40% more than associate consultants, and 15% more than a regular consultant. Similarly, first consultations are less costly than a second or third consultation, which is considered a repeat or follow up meeting with your medical consultant. For example, a first consultation with an associate medical provider is about 32% more costly than the following consultations with the same provider.

Private Hospital Doctors’ Inpatient Attendance Fee Per Visit

WardBefore MidnightAfter Midnight
General WardS$210 to S$320S$320 to S$420
High Dependency UnitS$260 to S$370S$370 to S$530
Low Intensive Care Unit (ICU)S$320 to S$480S$480 to S$630

*per visit, Sourced from the Ministry of Health. Attendance fee applies to doctors after hour rates as well. 

For inpatient treatment at a private hospital, a visit from your private hospital doctor will cost you at least S$210 per visit. If you are set up in a general ward, then you can expect to pay between S$200 to $400 for a doctor’s visit. On the other hand, you will see a 50% increase in doctor’s inpatient attendance fees if your condition requires you to stay in the ICU.

Lastly, if you are going to the hospital for a high priority condition, it is likely that you would stay overnight and receive inpatient treatment. The cost per day to stay in a public or private ward can also add up. For instance, a C ward in a public hospital may only cost between S$37 to S$50 per day, but if you were to upgrade to an A ward, you’d see daily costs between S$535 and S$626. Private hospital wards charge much higher rates between S$240 and as much as S$9,838 for a single night.

While an emergency trip to a hospital A&E can be costly, your total out-of-pocket expenses are greatly influenced by your health insurance plan. By upgrading your health insurance with an Integrated Shield Plan, you can gain access to unsubsidised, private hospitals and ward types like B1 and A in restructured hospitals, as well as a wider range of coverage for pre- and post-hospitalisation costs.

Related: What is Co-Pay and How Does That Improve Your Health Insurance

When To Go To A&E

While hospitals can provide you with similar services as a clinic, like blood tests and minor surgeries, an Accident and Emergency centre will only see you if you are considered a high priority case. Medical priority is organised into four levels, with P1 considered the utmost important and P4 considered non-urgent.

A&E Priority Levels

Priority LevelClassificationExample of Medical Conditions
Priority 1 (P1)Resuscitation & Critically Ill PatientsHeart attack, severe surgeries and bleeding, shock, severe asthma attack
Priority 2 (P2)Major Emergencies (Cannot Walk)Major limb fracture or dislocation, moderate injuries, severe abdominal pain
Priority 3 (P3)Minor Emergencies (Can Walk)Sprains, minor injuries, minor abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, rashes, and mild headaches
Priority 4 (P4)Non-EmergencyChronic joint pains or skin rash, long-term nasal discharge, old scars, cataracts, removal of tattoos or sore throats

Priority levels and example conditions were sourced from the Singapore General Hospital website.

Non-emergencies like an old, chronic injury will be considered the lowest priority (P4), while conditions like a heart attack or stroke are considered the highest priority (P1). If your medical status falls into a P3 or P4 classification, it’s recommended that you seek treatment at a 24-hour GP clinic, rather than a A&E hospital centre.

Should You Go To A 24-Hour Clinic Or A&E Hospital?

woman lying in hospital
Source: Pexels

Even though 24-hour clinics and hospital A and E centres have some overlap, they prioritize very different health concerns and services. The choice between a 24-hour clinic and hospital A&E service comes down to the severity of your medical condition. If you are facing a life-threatening medical condition that would fall into priority level P1 or P2, then you should go to an emergency room. But, if you can determine that your condition is not critical and would likely fall into level P3 or P4, then you should visit your local 24-hour clinic for a diagnosis and treatment.

If costs are a significant factor in determining your course of health services, you can consider different methods to save money. Some medical services from a 24-hour GP clinic are covered by personal accident plans and MediSave. On the other hand, MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans can help you offset the high costs of hospital bills and treatment from an A&E. Singaporeans who have financial difficulties even after utilising MediShield Life or MediSave can apply for assistance from Medifund after speaking to a social worker at the hospital.

Be sure you are covered with the right insurance plan for you, so that you don’t have to bear the burden of hefty hospitalisation fees. Check out our roundup of the best health insurance plans in the market now!

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