The Real Financial Cost of Critical Illnesses in Singapore

The costs of being critically ill can be overwhelming. Discover how you can manage such costs with the right critical illnesses insurance plan – multi-pay or accelerated – in Singapore.

Sihan Chia

by Sihan Chia on Mar 25, 2024

critical illness coverage

Battling a critical illness can be tough. It is a long-term affair and can put a large stress on one’s finances and emotional health. From the medical bills involved in the treatments for critical illnesses to facing difficulties with paying for necessities, it is no surprise that one in three of critical illnesses patients have spent all or most of their savings battling critical illnesses.

The True Financial Cost of Being Critically Ill

manulife critical illness insurance infographic
Source: Manulife

Ranked as the second most expensive country to live in, it is inevitable that the costs of healthcare in Singapore are costly as well. For those battling critical illnesses, it is not solely the one-time costs that they have to bear. There are also long-term costs of treatment for critical illnesses involved. Between the emotional trauma and challenges and the financial distress one faces when critically ill, patients, as well as their loved ones, often find financial concerns the biggest challenge.

In a 2020 study conducted by Manulife, it was found that on average, critically ill patients spend S$32,000 on treatment while 15% spent in excess of S$50,000 or more. With such a hefty sum spent on just their treatment, it leaves them with little to no money left for other expenses. Perhaps, this could be why 25% of patients have had to borrow money or remortgage to pay off their bills.

But it’s not simply the cost of treatments that patients worry about. It is also the fear that they may end up losing their jobs once diagnosed. As the medical bills to pay in the future increase and yet, they face a declining source of income, it has been reported that 6% of patients have declared bankruptcy due to critical illnesses.

While Singaporeans may be eligible for subsidies and grants offered by the government, the reality is that such subsidies are typically insufficient.

Related: Average Cost of Cancer Treatment in Singapore

The costs of critical illnesses can indeed be overwhelming. However, there is a solution that can help alleviate a significant amount of your financial burden.

The Solution: Critical Illnesses Insurance

As its name suggests, critical illness insurance provides coverage for life-threatening illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, and more. As such medical emergencies incur a much higher cost than usual medical expenses, critical illness insurance plans provide payouts to help cover such costs. Currently, you have the option to purchase a standalone critical illness insurance plan or have it as an add-on to your life insurance plan.

Some insurers offer a multi-pay plan whereas others offer an accelerated plan. Read on to better understand their differences and which you should purchase.

Multi-pay vs Accelerated Critical Illnesses Insurance: Their Key Differences

For those new to critical illness insurance, these terms may sound foreign to you. However, in a bid to help you better understand such terms, we have included their key differences.

The Number of Claims You Can Make

The main difference between the two is the number of claims and payouts offered. Easily inferred from the name, “multi-pay”, a multi-pay critical insurance plan offers multiple payouts whereas an accelerated plan only offers one.

For an accelerated plan, upon your diagnosis, your insurer will pay you a lump sum if you are diagnosed with a critical illness covered in your policy. After which, your insurance plan will be terminated.

On the other hand, multi-pay plans will provide coverage for recurring critical illnesses. Similar to an accelerated plan, upon your diagnosis, you will receive a payout from your insurer if you are diagnosed with a critical illness covered in your policy. However, for multi-pay plans, your plan will not be terminated. As such, should you be diagnosed with another critical illness covered by your policy or suffer a relapse, you will be able to make another claim.

Having said that, do read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to understand the percentage of the Sum Assured you will get to claim and the minimum period of time before you can make your next claim.

The Premium That You Pay

Due to the higher number of payouts offered under a multi-pay critical illnesses insurance plan, the premium that you will have to pay will generally be higher.

For a 35-year-old individual with a Sum Assured of S$100,000, the costs of the various plan are as follows:

  • Accelerated Critical Illness Insurance: S$300 – S$1,300
  • Multi-pay Critical Illness Insurance: S$1,000 – S$3,500

Who Should Get Multi-pay Critical Illnesses Insurance Plans

woman lying in hospital
Source: Pexels

Whether you should get a multi-pay or accelerated plan is entirely up to your priorities. For individuals who prefer and can afford higher coverage and payouts, the multi-pay critical illnesses insurance plans are for you.

For Those Looking For Extensive Coverage

As previously mentioned, you will be able to make multiple claims under the multi-pay plan. This allows you to be covered for more than one critical illness.

As such, in the case where a critical illness can be genetically inherited, it is often recommended to get multi-pay plans as it has a high possibility of recurring. Nevertheless, in cases where your budget does not permit you to opt for a high coverage plan, you can consider getting a cancer insurance plan such as the MSIG Cancer Insurance instead.

Providing coverage for cancer only, the premiums that you will have to pay will be much lower. Thus allowing you to cut your expenses on insurance. Apart from cancer insurance, insurers in Singapore also offer heart attack and stroke insurance plans.

With such a financial safety net in place, in the unfortunate event that you are diagnosed with a critical illness covered by your policy, you may have a peace of mind that your finances would not take a blow. As such, you would not need to trouble your family to help you with finances. Furthermore, the extra amount that you have saved with a critical insurance plan can be then used for long-term daily medical necessities that your policy does not cover but is required for your treatment.

If You Can Afford for Higher Payouts in Total

Apart from enjoying more extensive coverage under the multi-pay plan, you will also be able to enjoy higher payouts in the long run.

Take Singlife’s Multipay Critical Illness for instance:

Critical Illness (CI) BenefitMaximum total payout:
600% of the Sum Assured
Upon diagnosis of the following:
(a) Early or Intermediate Stage CI100% of the Sum Assured (per claim)
(b) Severe Stage CI300% of the Sum Assured
less any claim paid for the
Early and Intermediate Stage of the
same CI Group (per claim)
Recurrent CI BenefitMaximum total payout:
300% of the Sum Assured
Upon diagnosis of the following:
(a) any one of the 6 specified Severe Stage CIs covered (after the CI Benefit has ceased)100% of the Sum Assured (per claim)
(b) any one of the 6 Recurrent CIs covered100% of the Sum Assured (per claim)

Under this plan, you will be entitled to up to 900 percent of your Sum Assured, depending on your diagnosis. In comparison, accelerated plans such as those by FWD only offer a one-time 100 percent lump sum cash payout.

Who Should Get Accelerated Critical Illnesses Insurance Plans

patient in hospital critical illness health insurance

As for individuals who have a tighter budget and prefer a much more straightforward plan, you can consider getting an accelerated plan instead.

For the Budget Conscious

As such plans provide lower payouts and cover a single critical illness, the premium is also much lower, making it suitable for those on a tighter budget.

Having said that, it is imperative to note that the premium you pay will depend on the following factors.

  • Age
  • Health
  • Family Medical History
  • Smoking Habits
  • Job
  • Lifestyle
  • Level of Coverage

In general, the older you are, the more expensive the premium. This is due to the fact that older individuals often face a higher risk of contracting critical illnesses such as dementia and heart attacks as compared to younger individuals.

For those who smoke, have pre-existing conditions, a family history of a critical illness, have a high-risk job, and lead a relatively high risk and unhealthy lifestyle, your insurance premium will be much higher. The basis of a higher premium is simply because you have a higher risk of contracting a life-threatening disease and would incur higher medical bills.

In the short-run, the lump sum payout will cover your medical bills should you be diagnosed with a critical illness. In the long-run, the lower premium paid will allow you to save a significant amount if you do not contract a critical illness.

If You Have a Lower Risk Medical History

Such a plan is also more suited for those with a lower risk medical history. For those with a lower risk family and individual medical history, the probability of contracting a critical illness is much lower, albeit not zero. Thus, the likelihood of needing multiple payouts due to relapse or contracting multiple critical illnesses is much lower.

Our Recommendations

For those looking to get a critical illness insurance plan, we’ve got your back! To help you find the best critical illness insurance plan in Singapore, we have listed our top recommendations below.

While some critical illness plans on the market focus on one illness to cover, such as cancer, there are plans that cover a multitude of illnesses. These plans can be a good option for people who want more robust coverage that covers all the bases of their health concerns.

Top Multi-pay Critical Illnesses Insurance Plans: Singlife and Manulife

Plan:Singlife Manulife
Plan Name:Singlife Multipay Critical IllnessReady CompleteCare (CoverMeAgain)
Max Age:99N/A
Total Claims:56
Coverage:Early, Intermediate, AdvancedEarly, Intermediate, Advanced
Features:Premium waiver, S$5,000 death benefit, Recurring illness payout, 300% total coverageFree biennial health check, 500% total coverage, Free child coverage, Additional payout for 18 extra conditions, Return of premiums upon death

Top Accelerated Critical Illnesses Insurance Plan: FWD

A critical illness plan that covers the most common critical illnesses.

Top Cancer Insurance Plan: MSIG

Suitable for those who have substantial health and life insurance but want a bit of a protection boost for cheap.

The Bottom Line

With cancer being the top cause of death in 2023, it is best that we protect both ourselves and our wallets by purchasing critical illness insurance, be it a multi-pay or accelerated plan. Having seen the financial distress that critically ill patients and their caregivers face, it is evident that a critical illness insurance plan can greatly lessen the financial burden one faces in the event that they are diagnosed with a critical illness. Without having the financial burden on both you and your family, it can no doubt allow you to have peace of mind.

Want to be protected? Find out more about the plans using our roundup of the best critical illnesses insurance plans in Singapore.

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