The anticipation of a new-born child to your family is a happy occasion. However, it can also be a stressful period for some of you, who may be worried about possible complications, and the associated costs that may be involved. Speaking to many friends and witnessing true incidents, I know having a coverage is essential. In this post, I’m going to cover the types of policies that are related to pregnancy, and some frequently asked questions on how they work. Hopefully, it can help you get a clearer picture of:
- What’s available out there,
- How these policies work, and
- How you can minimise the financial risk associated with pregnancy complications.
- If you are currently doing family planning, read on to find out how you have the upper hand in minimising your financial risks.
There are 3 types of insurance policies that are associated with childbirth:
- Integrated Shield Plans (ISP)
- International Healthcare Plans (IHP)
- Maternity Benefit Plans (MBP)
Integrated Shield Plans (ISP)
This is the most common type of hospitalisation and surgical (H&S) insurance in Singapore. This group of insurance policies integrates with MediShield Life to provide coverage for hospitalisation and surgical procedures. Currently there are 7 insurers who provides this coverage and they are AIA, Aviva, AXA, Great Eastern, NTUC, Prudential and Raffles Medical Insurance.
International Healthcare Plans (IHP)
This group of policies traditionally cater to expatriates, because they allow you to gain medical attention in other countries while travelling or residing there. On top of that they offer outpatient GP benefits, normal childbirth benefits, health screening, and other options that you can customise along the way. In recent years, these policies started to gain traction within the local community, and with good reasons because of the changing landscape and strict medical underwriting of the Integrated Shield Plans. It is not surprising that there are more insurers providing this coverage now.
Maternity Benefit Plans (MBP)
This group of policies provide one-off coverage for pregnancy complications and child congenital illnesses. These policies are designed as a stop-gap solution for limitations found in the Integrated Shield Plans. As the risk is high, insurance companies limit their exposure by offering plans with coverage of $5,000 to $25,000, up to 3 or 6 years, depending on insurers. The cover is usually for 3 years from the last policy effective date.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does my hospital plan cover normal childbirth?
ISP: No, normal child delivery is not covered.
IHP: Yes/No, it depends on when you purchase the plan and whether your plan type have this feature. These plans usually have a waiting period before they cover for normal childbirth. If you are planning for kids within the next one or two years, this may be something you can look out for.
MBP: No, this plan only covers for eligible pregnancy complications and child’s congenital illnesses.
2. Does my hospital plan cover pregnancy complications?
ISP: Yes, however the list of complications differs from one insurer to another. You may need to check with your insurer about which complications they cover.
IHP: Yes, the list of complications differs from one insurer to another as well.
MBP: Yes, the list of complications differs from one insurer to another.
For ISP & IHP to cover for pregnancy complications, there is usually a waiting period of 300 days from the last policy effective date. If you have purchased either one these two plans within 300 days, you may wish to consider getting a coverage under the MBP.
3. In the event of premature birth and my baby must be admitted in the hospital, am I currently covered?
ISP: No, as this plan only covers the mother. New-born can only purchase a plan 15 days after birth or discharge from hospital whichever is later, subject to medical underwriting.
IHP: Yes/No. Certain plan types allow you to purchase hospitalisation plan for your new-born from the first day, regardless of medical conditions. This by itself, is a huge benefit as it helps ensure that in the event of premature birth, your baby hospitalisation bills are covered.
MBP: Yes, the coverage will be in the form of daily hospitalisation cash up to a maximum of (usually) 30 days.
4. What happens if my baby is born and is diagnosed with congenital illnesses?
Congenital illnesses may be diagnosed shortly after a baby is born, or it could take years before symptoms occur and diagnosed.
ISP: Yes/No. If a child successfully enrolled into one of these policies after birth, most insurers impose a waiting period for congenital illnesses coverage. Some of them have shorter waiting period, while others may cover for them at a lower coverage.
IHP: Yes, with a limit per policy year (usually above $100,000)
MBP: Yes. If the congenital illness falls within the definition of the covered illness, you can claim for the benefit amount that you purchased. Coverage for this is 3 years from start of policy.
5. When my baby is born, will I be able to buy him/her a Critical Illness insurance policy?
Most insurance policies require medical underwriting and can only be bought 15 to 30 days after a baby is born. For babies who are healthy, the policies will usually be able to take effect without delay. For babies who have an existing condition may be required to provide more medical findings if insurable, or there could be an exclusion or paying additional premium, depending on the condition.
For mothers who purchased a maternity plan when they are pregnant, it can be tied to a life insurance or an investment-linked policy that covers for critical illnesses, or it can be a standalone plan.
- For maternity plans that are tied to life insurance/investment-linked policy
Pre-existing conditions are covered for the child, ensuring that you can pass on the policy to them within 30-60 days after birth. There is no issue on insurability.
- Standalone maternity plan
These plans usually include a guaranteed insurability benefit (GIB) for you to buy a policy for your new-born covering critical illnesses, total and permanent disability and death, without medical underwriting. However, pre-existing conditions are excluded from the policies. Do note that there is a time frame to exercise this transfer of GIB option. It is usually 90 days from the birth of the child. Once we exceed the stated time duration, we may not be able to exercise this right anymore.
There is a saying that babies take in the emotions of mother during pregnancy. As much as you like to be happy, pregnancy and childbirth are stressful periods for the family. It takes a lot of mindfulness, family support and self-motivation to upkeep yourselves. Add to that, the possibility of financial constraints if things don’t go your way, there are just too many things to take note off.
I hope that I have cleared some of your doubts here and removed some of your fears or worries.
Disclaimer: Information written is to my best knowledge as per the date posted and has no legal rights. It represents my personal opinion, which may be different from yours, and that’s totally cool. It is important to read the policy contract and documents for the full terms and conditions. This post does not constitute a recommendation. Please seek professional advice before committing to a plan as it is a long term commitment.