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Foreign workers covered by medical insurance

  • The Straits Times Online (23 March 2012) : Bosses must pay foreign workers' medical bills
  • The Straits Times Online (14 March 2012) : Offer basic medical care to foreign workers

Bosses must pay foreign workers' medical bills
- The Straits Times Online, 23 March 2012

We thank Mr Jeffrey Law for his letter (“Offer basic medical care to foreign workers, 14 March 2012").

2.   Under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, employers are responsible for and must bear the costs of the provision of any necessary medical treatment that the worker requires.

3.   To assist employers in discharging their responsibility of bearing the medical expenses of their S Pass and Work Permit holders (including Foreign Domestic Workers), all employers are required to purchase and maintain medical insurance coverage of at least $15,000 per year for the worker’s inpatient care and day surgery.

4.   The medical insurance provides cover for the foreign workers’ medical expenses, including hospital bills arising from treatment for causes that may not be work-related. The coverage was set at the said amount to keep premiums affordable for employers, while providing sufficient coverage for the majority of the foreign workers’ hospitalisation bills.

5.   If you know of employers who do not take responsibility for their foreign workers’ medical expenses, you should inform MOM as soon as possible at All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Offer basic medical care to foreign workers
- The Straits Times Online, 14 March 2012

While it is good to know that foreign workers can enjoy affordable medical care ('Medical care and listening ear for $5'; Monday), it is apparent that their employers do not provide them with basic medical benefits.

I am saddened that lowly paid foreign workers have to bear the cost of visiting doctors when they are ill, and for this reason, many prefer to work despite being sick.

Also, workers who are medically unfit may get hurt on the job.
Not long ago, I was at a private clinic when a Bangladeshi worker registered at the reception counter to consult the doctor for back pain. What saddened me was when a staff member asked the worker if he had $50 with him; she wanted to ensure that he could afford the fee.

Our neighbourhood sweeper works long hours every day, rain or shine, and he continues to do so even when he is not feeling well.

It would be good if such workers are entitled to medical care provided by their bosses.