Friday, September 02, 2011

Comparing NTUC latest hospitalization insurance policy with AIA’s

As a cancer patient, I am heavily dependent on health insurance policy. It is unfortunate that I did not buy the health insurance policy that offers the most comprehensive coverage nine years ago, and I did not think about upgrading my policy during those nine years until I was diagnosed with cancer last year. While I was in the US, I had thought of cancelling my hospitalization policy in Singapore since I was already buying health insurance policy in Boston. Fortunately, my insurance agent dissuaded me from doing so.

Even though I am disqualified from upgrading my existing health insurance policy, at least I could still do a comparison and advise my family members which policy offers the best value. In this case, I am interested to compare between NTUC Income Health Insurance policy and AIA Healthshield plan. Both companies offer hospitalization policies which do not carry cash value, and are renewable every year. You are eligible to purchase the policy if you do not have any pre-condition that predisposes you to a critical illness.When buying hospitalization insurance policy, I suggest using three criteria for comparison. First, does it offer sufficient coverage during hospitalization? Second, after discharge from hospital, what kind of coverage is being offered? If I need long-term outpatient treatment, am I being covered? Third, is there a cap as to how much I can claim per policy year and lifetime? If the premiums are affordable, I would suggest looking for policy that covers as much as possible, and ideally the policy should pay as much as you are being charged.

According to NTUC IncomeShield Plan at, there are three types of hospitalization insurance policies: Preferred, Advantage and Basic. The three types of policy will pay for the full hospitalization charges (minus 10% co-insurance & deductible) at private hospital, government/restructured A ward and below, and government/restructured B1 ward and below respectively. All three policies also pay for the full charges (minus 10% co-insurance & deductible) incurred due to chemotherapy (which is very critical for cancer patient), and other stated out-patient hospital treatment. The limit per policy year is $600,000; $400,000; and $150,000 respectively for each policy. How about the limit per lifetime? There is no limit for each policy. All three policies also offers up to 90 days full post-hospitalization charges.

AIA offers an equivalent hospitalization plan called AIA HealthShield Gold Max and AIA HealthShield Gold Max Essential. The HealthShield Gold Max is comparable to NTUC IncomeShield Preferred Plan. You can find out more details about AIA HealthShield plan at the difference between HealthShield Gold Max and Gold Max Essential is that the latter policy covers co-insurance and deductibles as well. If you download the brochure, you will see that AIA covers 100 days pre-hospitalization and 100 days post-hospitalization charges. However the limit per policy year for HealthShield Gold Max is up to $500,000 while NTUC Preferred Plan offers up to $600,000 per policy year. This $100,000 difference is crucial if you are in intensive care unit. However, there is no limit for lifetime in the case of HealthShield Gold Max and it covers all charges incurred by out-patient hospital treatment including chemotherapy (remember to minus 10% co-insurance and deductible), which is the same as all the three plans offered by NTUC.

Having compared some elementary differences between AIA and NTUC hospitalization insurance plans, you might think that NTUC insurance plans should cost more than AIA’s. Let’s take a look at the chart below for comparison.
AIA Premiums
AIA HealthShield Gold Max Premiums

NTUC Premiums
NTUC IncomeShield Premiums

Apparently, if you were to buy NTUC IncomeShield Preferred Plan, you are paying lesser premium than AIA’s equivalent hospitalization insurance plan. If I were looking for new hospitalization insurance policy, my choice is clear: I would prefer NTUC IncomeShield Preferred Plan. Few years ago, AIA used to set the industry standard for insurance plan, ranging from cash-valued policy to term policy. But now, NTUC seems to be setting a new standard for the rest of other insurance company in Singapore. I wish AIA insurance agents could exert pressure on their company’s management team to up their standard again for the benefits of their clients. 

(Disclaimer: I am not an insurance agent, neither do I earn any commission from writing this blog entry). 

No comments: