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How to choose between different types of health insurance plans

What are the differences between MediShield Life, Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) and other hospitalisation plans? Let’s demystify the various types of health insurance plans and figure out what would be suitable for your situation.

Types of health insurance plans

a) MediShield Life - Basic Health Insurance Plan for all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents

All Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are eligible for MediShield Life1, a basic health insurance scheme which helps to pay for large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy for cancer.

However, it is important to note that MediShield Life is sized for subsidised treatment in public hospitals and pegged at Class B2/C wards, to keep premiums affordable2. For reference, B2 wards typically have up to 6 beds in a room and C wards have up to 8 beds in a room3. If you would like to stay in Class A/B1 wards or private hospitals where bills are much higher, and MediShield Life is all you have, you’ll likely have to pay hefty costs out-of-pocket as your Medishield Life payout will cover only a small proportion of your bill.

b) Integrated Shield Plan (IP) – Optional coverage on top of MediShield Life

For additional coverage of bills in Class A/B1 wards or private hospitals, you could consider purchasing an Integrated Shield Plan (IP), an additional private insurance coverage provided by private insurers designed to complement MediShield Life4. Those covered under IPs enjoy the combined benefits of (i) MediShield Life, administered by the Central Provident Fund Board; and (ii) the additional private insurance coverage for Class A/B1 and private hospital stays, run by private insurers. There is no duplicate coverage between MediShield Life and IPs5.

One thing to note is that even with IPs, you might still have to co-pay a portion of your medical bills, minimally 5%6 of the total bill. This can really add up if you are suffering from a serious illness that requires a long period of hospitalisation or long period of treatment.

c) Other Hospitalisation Insurance Plan – Suitable for foreigners

As MediShield Life is only applicable to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, foreigners would have to consider other hospitalisation insurance plans if they would like to be covered for their medical bills. Some plans will also cover you internationally and are thus ideal for expatriates who intend to leave Singapore after some time.

If you are a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident, you could also consider this option if you do not wish to co-pay your medical bills. For example, Manulife’s ManuCare reimburses your bill from the first dollar, with no co-insurance and deductibles. 

A policy that covers hospitalisation expenses in private and public hospitals in Singapore.

Case studies:

Scenario 1 - Michelle is a 35-year-old Singaporean. As a Singapore citizen, she is automatically covered by MediShield Life. In order to complement her MediShield Life coverage, she purchases an IP, adding an optional rider so that she can reduce her co-payment portion to 5% and have 95% of her medical bills covered by the insurer. If Michelle gets hospitalised, her IP will pay 95% of her eligible hospital bills. The remaining 5% will be paid by her. However if she has Manulife ManuCare, the 5% will be covered entirely7 by the plan.  

Scenario 2 - Brian is a 35-year-old Australian citizen working in Singapore on an Employment Pass.  He was warded in hospital for acute appendicitis. As he does not have MediShield or any private health insurance plan, he had to pay the full hospitalisation bill out of his own pocket. If he has Manulife ManuCare, which has no co-insurance or deductible component in the plan, he will have a peace of mind knowing that 100%7 of his eligible hospital bills will be reimbursed.

There you go! We hope you understand the different types of health insurance plans better now. Knowing the differences is critical as it helps you decide if you have adequate health insurance so you can receive the necessary medical care whenever you need it without worrying about the cost.

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    7. T&Cs apply. Please refer to the Product Summary and Policy Contract for more details.


    Important Notes:

    ManuCare is underwritten by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Reg. No.198002116D). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Buying health insurance products that are unsuitable for you may affect your ability to finance your future healthcare needs. This material is for your information only and does not consider your specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not a contract of insurance and is not intended as an offer or recommendation to purchase the plan. You can find the full terms and conditions, details, and exclusions for the mentioned insurance product(s) in the policy contract. This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the LIA or SDIC websites ( or We recommend that you seek advice from a Manulife Financial Consultant or our Appointed Distributors before making a commitment to purchase a policy. Information is correct as at 17/08/2022.

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