In 2012 I moved to Singapore with my then boyfriend. I still remember the day we received the “offer he couldn’t refuse” from this company in Singapore. Amidst the February chill and rain, we were dancing in excitement; I could just see the trips around Asia we would be making. Little did we know….

Singapore is an awesome place. It is safe, clean with lots of different kinds of food and cultures. Its geographical position makes it easy to hop on a plane and fly to one of the neighboring countries for a quick getaway or weekend break. 

I did my research and thought I was ready for this adventure. I even read the book “How to become an expat” but no matter how well prepared you think you are, there are always things you didn’t know or thought you knew and those where you could never fathom the impact they would have.  

1. Rent

I knew it was high, but never realized it was this high! For the same amount of rent I currently am paying for my beautiful 2-bedroom condo, I could have rent a big landed villa in my home country. Granted, time out in the cold in a huge garden isn’t ideal, but hey, dreams are free… J

2. Car

After housing, owning a car is probably the most expensive item in Singapore. We bought a used Volkswagen Golf (after I first sold my kidney) for an amount that would get me a brand new Audi convertible back home in Europe. Sure, the amount of times I could actually open the roof would be very limited and if I did, most likely all of my belongings would get nicked, but it probably would feel less painful.

3. Health insurance

Until I started working as a health insurance advisor, I thought our health insurance was in order, like the HR department promised. However upon taking a closer look, I discovered that there were lots of gaps and issues. 

When I was told that I would receive ‘decent health insurance,’ I expected an extensive cover similar to what I had back home; one which covered features such as pre-existing conditions, childbirth, congenital conditions at an affordable price.

When I finally got the policy documents I was quite amazed. We were not covered they way we expected:

Q: Are spouse and children covered?

A: My husband’s policy only covered spouse if you are actually married, which we weren’t at that time. Common law spouse is not recognized as marriage.

Q: Can I have medical treatment outside of Singapore? (what is the area of cover)

A: Yes, we have worldwide cover! Only when I read the policy, it turned out that only accidents and sudden illnesses are covered when being abroad. If I choose to have a surgery done in my own country where my family can be around for my recovery, this will not be covered.

Q: What is the amount the insurer will pay max per year? (Annual limit)

A: O, please stop, SGD 40,000 per year and a sublimit of SGD 15,000 for cancer?!

Q: Are things like specialist, doctors and dentist visits and medication covered?

A: Nope, only hospitalization and surgery. Check-ups after surgery (post hospitalization) also that I have to pay myself.

Q: What are the exclusions?

A: This is interesting, there are more pages with exclusions then pages with benefits. Most important one for me was: All pre-existing conditions and pregnancy related costs are excluded. And I am not even going to discuss sports exclusion.

Q: Last check, will the insurer pay the hospital direct?

A: My policy will only reimburse the hospital bill and not pay direct to the hospital. I guess I just have to carry multiple credit cards then.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for receiving health insurance as part of our benefits package. I just wished I had checked the policy earlier. Fortunately I didn’t have any costly treatments before I took out a private International Health Insurance plan.  

So if the above sounds familiar, do run a check your current health insurance plan.

If the wording is confusing, have a look at this article “12 Health insurance terms you should know where technical insurance terms have been explained in a helpful and simple format.