Is Mental Health Treatment Free in Singapore?

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Ava Cheng

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Singapore has made significant progress in recent years towards supporting mental health services and making treatment more affordable and accessible. However, mental health care is generally not free in Singapore except for lower income individuals.

Overview of mental health care system

The mental health care system in Singapore consists of both public and private providers:

  • Public Sector – Public hospitals and polyclinics provide subsidized mental health services based on means-testing.
  • Private Sector – Private psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors provide mental health treatment for fees that are generally not subsidized.

There are also voluntary welfare organizations that offer some mental health services.

Is mental health treatment free?

In general, mental health treatment from private providers is not free in Singapore, and fees need to be paid out-of-pocket.

However, at public hospitals and polyclinics, lower to middle income Singapore citizens and PRs can get partially or fully subsidized care and medications:

Subsidy LevelCitizen Income ThresholdPR Income Threshold
75% subsidyPer capita household income ≤$900Per capita household income ≤$1,100
50% subsidyPer capita household income $901-$1,800Per capita household income $1,101-$1,800

Those without a subsidy card will have to pay non-subsidized rates.

Special exceptions

Certain groups can qualify for free mental health treatment regardless of income level:

  • Pioneers – Singaporeans aged 65 and above this year who obtained citizenship by 31 Dec 1986.
  • Merdeka Generation – Singaporeans aged 60 to 74 this year who obtained citizenship by 31 Dec 1996.

These groups have access to special subsidies and schemes for chronic conditions including mental health under the Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation packages.

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Affordability of private mental healthcare

For those seeking private psychiatric help, prices can range widely depending on the professional’s credentials and experience. Some typical costs are:

  • Psychiatrist Consultation – $250 – $500+ per session
  • Psychologist Therapy – $150 – $300+ per session
  • Counselor – $100 – $200+ per session

While the fees may be affordable for higher income individuals, the cost can be prohibitive for middle and lower income groups without insurance coverage.

Using insurance

Many insurance plans in Singapore provide some coverage for outpatient mental health treatment:

  • MediShield Life – Covers up to $160 per day for inpatient psychiatric treatment at public hospitals, up to 35 days per year. Outpatient treatments not covered.
  • Integrated Shield Plans – Many full riders cover outpatient mental health treatment, with claim limits in the range of $1,000 to $3,000 per year.

For those with insurance, verifying coverage details beforehand will be important.

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Financial assistance schemes

Besides government subsidies, there are also other financial assistance schemes Singaporeans can tap on to get help paying medical bills, including mental healthcare:

SchemeEligibilityBenefits
MedifundSingapore CitizensHelps pay for medical expenses for those facing financial difficulties, including mental health. Amount awarded depends on individual/family financial situation.
Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)Singapore Citizens from lower-middle income households <$2,400 per capita incomeUp to 75% off medical and dental fees at participating General Practitioner and dental clinics
Singaporeans can apply for these schemes by approaching medical social workers at public hospitals and polyclinics.

Conclusion – Navigating mental health care in Singapore

In summary, while mental health treatment from public hospitals is subsidized for citizens and PRs based on income level, services from private providers generally have to be paid for out-of-pocket by the patient.

Using insurance and financial assistance schemes can help offset the cost for middle to lower-income individuals seeking private psychiatric help.

But for the most part, completely free mental healthcare is only available to Pioneers, Merdeka Generation seniors, and lower income citizens.

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Ling Anne Hsieh on mental health and well-being support in Singapore

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About the author

Ava Cheng

Ava Cheng

Hey there, I'm Ava Cheng—an inquisitive soul originally from Hong Kong now based in Singapore. As a physiotherapist, I have a passion for understanding women's health and the crossroads of medicine and psychology. Living in the heart of Singapore, I'm on a constant journey to explore the latest trends in these fascinating fields. The human body and mind never fail to amaze me, and I'm determined to unravel their mysteries one discovery at a time. Let's embark on this intellectual adventure together! Social

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