Starting in Singapore: Health Care in Singapore
Health Care

This article was contributed by Matt Donath

Expat workers are usually given health benefits as part of their contract. This often takes the form of a variant of a managed plan where you choose from a list of doctors participating in the system. You will need to take a physical and get a chest X-ray. I've been quite satisfied with the doctor I've been seeing.

This primary care physician can also dispense drugs and medication. Conveniently, prescriptions are usually immediately filled at the doctor's office and are part of your coverage. Doctors here seem to be a bit more liberal in dispensing medication, particularly antibiotics, than those in the States.

If you are too sick to go to work, you are required to go to the doctor and get a note giving you permission for sick leave. I'm not kidding! Instead of allowing you to sleep off a cold or other minor illness, you have to drag your sick body over to the doctor and pick up a signed, standardized medical leave form. This is perhaps the biggest gripe expats have about the health care system here.

Remember that Singapore is near the equator, so you need to be ever vigilant against sunburn and dehydration. I've battled heat rash while adjusting to the temperature. Cuts and sores can also take longer to heal in this climate and require a bit more attention.

Malaria is rare in Singapore but there are occasaional bouts of Dengue Fever cases. Be careful about leaving standing water around, such as under plant containers, as this serves as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. A health inspector periodically comes around to check homes for potential risk of Dengue Fever. I've read humorous accounts of expats poking fun at these stern inspectors and their seemingly extreme measures. The risk is genuine, however, so try to be patient with them.

If you are planning on traveling around the region, I strongly recommend you check out the CDC's (Center for Disease Control's) recommended vaccinations for travelers. On their advice, as well as that of my doctor, I am in the process of taking my Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. I was able to get this at my doctor's office, but these expensive shots are not covered by my plan.

An excellent collection of links to Singapore health information can be found at: Among other things, you can find links to several of the major hospitals.

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