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Enhanced mandatory medical insurance to cover bills in most cases

We refer to the letters by Ms Ryna Tan Chwee Eng (Set a limit to employer’s liability for maid’s medical bills, 16 January) and Ms Stacey Low Loon (Stuck with a hefty bill now because maid has a communicable disease, 18 January).

It is mandatory for employers to provide medical insurance for their migrant domestic workers (MDWs). The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) regularly reviews the coverage of medical insurance policies for MDWs. This ensures adequate medical care for MDWs while balancing financial protection for their employers against large medical bills.

From 1 July 2023, employers are required to purchase medical insurance with an annual claim limit of at least $60,000 for their MDWs, up from the previous $15,000. The increased claim limit also applies to any sub-limit on inpatient care for medical situations, including communicable diseases such as tuberculosis.

Employers who are keen to obtain additional coverage against larger unforeseen medical bills can take up insurance plans that are readily available in the market.  Employers who face financial difficulties in paying for their MDW’s medical bills can approach medical social workers at public healthcare institutions for assistance.

Doris Kuek

Director, Foreign Manpower Policy

Workplace Policy and Strategy Division

Ministry of Manpower


Set a limit to employer’s liability for maid’s medical bills, 16 Jan 2024, The Straits Times

Recently, my sister’s helper was hospitalised at a restructured hospital after having a heart attack.

The doctor ordered tests and scans, and the bill came up to almost $40,000 for a three-night stay.

The helper asked to be discharged to go back to her home country.

After signing an indemnity form, she was discharged and my sister arranged her flight home.

Most of the insurance plicies covering a helper’s hospitalisation and surgical expenses cover only up to $60,000 a year.

The one that my sister bought was for 100 per cent coverage for amounts of up to $15,000, with her co-paying 25 per cent for amounts above $15,000 up to $80,000. In addition, she would have to pay 100 per cent of any amount above $80,000.

As the bill was $40,000, my sister had to pay $6,250, which is not a small amount. It would have been higher if the helper’s condition had worsened, or if she had needed surgery.

Why is there no limit to the liability that the employer of a domestic helper has to bear? I believe companies and statutory boards impose a cap on the medical expenses that an employee can claim.

I sought clarification from the Ministry of Manpower, and was told to approach a medical social worker if the employer had difficulties in settling the bill.

I hope the authorities can look into this matter. I understand that the helper needs to be protected, but so does the employer.

Ryna Tan Chwee Eng


Stuck with a hefty bill now because maid has a communicable disease, 18 Jan 2024, The Straits Times

I refer to Forum writer Ryna Tan Chwee Eng’s letter “Set a limit to employer’s liability for maid’s medical bills” (Jan 16). I am also facing a domestic helper’s medical bill crisis.

My elderly mother’s helper was admitted to the National University Hospital on Dec 19 for tuberculosis (TB). Her liver is affected by the bacteria and the medicine. She was discharged on Jan 17 and her medical bill came up to $32,468.26.

As the insurance company puts a cap of $3,000 on communicable diseases, I need to pay the rest of the bill out of my pocket.

I would like to suggest the following be put in place.

First, have means testing to set a limit on employers’ liability for their helpers’ medical bills.

With Singapore set to become a super-aged society in 2026, it is going to be common for helpers to be employed to look after the frail elderly. This is almost a necessity rather than a want on the part of the sandwiched middle-aged who continue to work to care for both dependent parents and their children.

The nightmare begins when a helper is hospitalised with an astronomical bill. Hence, having some kind of ceiling as suggested by Ms Tan would be helpful. This can be calibrated with some form of means testing.

Second, remove the clause that caps payouts for communicable diseases in insurance policies.

The recent changes made to insurance covering maids’ medical fees are commendable. However, the clause that communicable diseases are covered up to $3,000 seems to benefit only the insurance companies.

It does not seem fair that while all employers pay the same premium, only some illnesses are worth covering and not others. With the recent spotlight on TB cases, it would be most distressing for another employer to be caught in the same situation.

This situation is also stressful for my mother’s helper, as she feels guilty about being a financial burden to us. 

Stacey Low Loon