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I am travelling to Australia from Europe, with a layover in Singapore on both legs of my travel. On my outbound trip, I have a 15-hour layover and I will surely visit the city; on the return, I have ca. 6 hours and I may decide not to leave the airport.

I am worried about medical assistance in case of emergencies during these two layovers (during my stay in Australia I am covered by a reciprocity agreement between my homeland and Australia).

I find various insurance options about travel medical assistance, but they insist on covering the whole trip and not just an isolated day or two which are a small part of it. So, my questions are:

  1. Am I going to need a medical insurance for a layover in Singapore? Even if I don't leave the airport? Or are medical emergencies covered for free by the state health services?

  2. If the answer is yes, where can I buy medical insurance for such a short period of time? Directly through a Singapore company? Or maybe is there a company selling travel assistance in Europe that is flexible enough to cover only a short part of a trip?

  • This depends on your country, your medical insurance, and eventually your travel insurance. There is no way to answer in a general way, – Giacomo Catenazzi Jul 19 '18 at 10:26
  • @GiacomoCatenazzi Assume I have no other medical insurance and no travel insurance. – Federico Poloni Jul 19 '18 at 10:31
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi: He says he has checked this and found that it doesn't. – Henning Makholm Jul 19 '18 at 11:09
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    @Willeke This will work great until he needs to claim for an expensive medical treatment, at which point the insurer will investigate and declare that he lied to them, and is not covered. – MJeffryes Jul 19 '18 at 15:33
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    @FedericoPoloni See this. You definitely want to contact the insurance people at your work and have them tell you what to do. – user71659 Jul 19 '18 at 23:44
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A number of travel insurers, eg. World Nomads (no affiliation), will quite happily sell you medical insurance per day and per country, so if you want peace of mind you could buy two separate single days of coverage from them.

That said, insurance makes the most sense when you can't cover the cost of catastrophe, but in Singapore the public medical system is both excellent and very affordable, even at the unsubsidized rates paid by non-residents. For example, if you're hospitalized for a week due to heart failure, even at the high end of the scale you're looking at a bill of only $3500 or so: https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/bill-estimator/total-hospital-bills/HospitalBillsDetail/F62A

...which compares pretty favorably with the 6 figure bills you'd be looking at in the US.

  • Thanks, that is very useful information. I will definitely ask World Nomads for clarifications, but it seems like their form asks explicitly for the full duration of my trip: * Tell us your travel details* -- Start date -- End date. – Federico Poloni Jul 20 '18 at 6:27
  • @FedoricoPoloni That's the dates of coverage you want, which doesn't have to be the whole trip. – jpatokal Jul 20 '18 at 8:45
  • You may read it that way, but it clearly states "tell us your travel details". They can later claim that my insurance is invalid because I entered incorrect details. (See also MJeffryes comment to another answer). – Federico Poloni Jul 20 '18 at 8:50
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If you're unprepared to buy for the duration of your trip (which may still be wise, if there are restrictions on the reciprocity between Australia and your homeland), the easiest option may be to get a credit card that provides travel medical coverage. This will generally cover trips up to a certain duration, so the length of your trip will matter. The cards usually include other benefits that are useful to travelers too, such as baggage coverage.

Even if you could buy the short-term coverage, there would be a minimum premium for each burst of time you need it, so you might pay as much for a single day as you would pay for a week or two of coverage; it may not be as cost-ineffective to insure the whole trip as you think.

Bear in mind, too, that if your aircraft stops in another country because of your medical emergency, it is possible you could end up in another country than these completely unplanned, as well, and need medical insurance there, too. This is also possible if your aircraft stops for mechanical issues or for any other reason.

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    An other reason to buy coverage for the whole trip is repatriation which is not usually part of reciprocity medical care. – Willeke Jul 20 '18 at 14:37

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