In recent years, Singapore’s cost of living and healthcare expenditures have been steadily on the rise. The financial burden of medical treatments and procedures has become increasingly challenging for many residents. However, there’s a lesser-known option that offers both cost savings and added assurance, especially for those considering retirement in neighboring countries like Malaysia and Thailand—exploring overseas medical treatments using CPF Medisave.

Healthcare Costs in Singapore: A Growing Concern

Singapore’s reputation for world-class healthcare is unquestionable, but it often comes with a hefty price tag. With the cost of living continually escalating, medical expenses can strain one’s budget, making the pursuit of affordable healthcare alternatives a compelling proposition.

CPF Medisave: An Unexpected Solution

Since 1 March 2010, CPF Medisave, primarily designed to address local healthcare needs, can be surprisingly versatile when it comes to overseas medical treatments. By understanding the nuances of this system, Singaporeans can discover a viable solution to mitigate their healthcare expenses.

Overseas Medical Treatment with CPF Medisave: A Cost-Effective Choice

Seeking medical treatment abroad is an attractive option for those who wish to save money without compromising on the quality of care. Health Management International (HMI), a Medisave-accredited healthcare provider, facilitates this process, making it accessible to Singaporeans in need.

However, it’s essential to understand that Medisave will only cover medical emergencies or elective procedures that meet certain criteria.

Medical Emergencies:

A medical emergency is defined as a sudden and unexpected illness or injury that necessitates immediate medical attention. These situations can be life-threatening or result in permanent disability if not treated promptly. Some examples of medical emergencies include heart attacks, strokes, severe allergic reactions, accidents, acute appendicitis, and ruptured ectopic pregnancies.

Elective Procedures:

On the other hand, elective procedures are planned treatments that aren’t immediately necessary to save a patient’s life. They can range from cosmetic surgeries like breast augmentation or liposuction to procedures aimed at improving one’s quality of life, such as cataract surgery or knee replacement. The key here is that elective procedures must be considered medically necessary and performed by a qualified healthcare provider.

Now, let’s delve into the application process for using your CPF Medisave for overseas treatment:

1. Check Hospital Accreditation:

The first step is to ensure that the hospital where you plan to receive treatment is accredited by Health Management International (HMI). You can find a list of HMI-accredited hospitals in Malaysia and Thailand on their website.

2. Obtain a Referral from HMI:

To initiate the claims process, you will need a referral from HMI. You can apply for this referral either online or by contacting HMI at +65 6334 7283.

3. Pay the Medical Bill:

Upon receiving treatment at the overseas hospital, you will need to pay the full medical bill upfront.

4. Submit a Claim to CPF:

With the medical bill in hand, you can submit a claim for reimbursement to CPF. This can be done either online or via mail.

Please note that several conditions apply when using Medisave for overseas hospitalization:

  • The hospitalization must be for a minimum of 8 hours.
  • The hospitalization must be for either a medical emergency or an elective procedure approved by HMI.
  • The hospitalization must take place at an HMI-accredited hospital.

Additionally, the maximum amount of Medisave that can be utilized for overseas hospitalization is capped at the same limits as for hospitalization within Singapore. For inpatient hospitalization, the daily limit is SGD 550, and for day surgery, the limit ranges from SGD 150 to SGD 5,000, depending on the type of procedure.

A few more points to keep in mind:

  • You can only use your own Medisave or the Medisave of your approved dependants for overseas hospitalization.
  • Medisave cannot be used to cover ambulance charges, vaccination fees, or ElderShield and CareShield Assessment fees.

One of the elective procedures on my radar is full mouth rehabilitation, a comprehensive approach involving various dental treatments and procedures performed gradually to address a wide range of dental issues and restore a healthy, confident smile. However, it’s worth noting that dental surgery, including full mouth rehabilitation, is notorious for its substantial costs. Therefore, I’m embarking on a cost analysis journey to compare the expenses associated with full mouth rehabilitation in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand before making my decision.


In Singapore, known for its high living costs, dental surgery expenses can be significant. Here’s a general guide to what you might expect to pay for common dental procedures:

  • Wisdom tooth extraction: SGD 500 – SGD 1,000
  • Root canal treatment: SGD 500 – SGD 1,500
  • Dental implant: SGD 3,000 – SGD 5,000
  • Full mouth rehabilitation: SGD 10,000 – SGD 20,000


Malaysia has become a popular destination for medical tourism due to its affordability. Dental surgery costs in Malaysia are generally lower than in Singapore. Estimated prices are as follows:

  • Wisdom tooth extraction: RM 1,000 – RM 2,000 (approximately SGD 300 – SGD 600)
  • Root canal treatment: RM 1,000 – RM 2,500 (approximately SGD 300 – SGD 750)
  • Dental implant: RM 5,000 – RM 10,000 (approximately SGD 1,500 – SGD 3,000)
  • Full mouth rehabilitation: RM 15,000 – RM 30,000 (approximately SGD 4,500 – SGD 9,000)

Some of the accredited hospitals by HMI in Malaysia:

Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur
Regency Specialist Hospital, Johor
Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur


Thailand is another attractive destination for dental surgery due to its competitive pricing. Here’s a glimpse of estimated costs:

  • Wisdom tooth extraction: THB 5,000 – THB 10,000 (approximately SGD 175 – SGD 350)
  • Root canal treatment: THB 5,000 – THB 15,000 (approximately SGD 175 – SGD 525)
  • Dental implant: THB 20,000 – THB 40,000 (approximately SGD 700 – SGD 1,400)
  • Full mouth rehabilitation: THB 50,000 – THB 100,000 (approximately SGD 1,750 – SGD 3,500)

It’s essential to remember that these are rough estimates, and actual costs may vary based on factors like the type of hospital, the experience of the dentist, and the location of the facility. Additionally, dental surgery costs can be influenced by whether you choose a public or private hospital.

Some of the accredited hospitals by HMI in Thailand:

Bumrungrad International Hospital, Bangkok
Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital, Bangkok
Phyathai Hospital, Bangkok

Ultimately, the decision to undergo dental surgery abroad should be well-researched and carefully considered. While cost savings can be substantial, it’s crucial to prioritize the quality of care and the experience of the healthcare professionals involved in your treatment. Always consult with healthcare providers directly for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information.

If you’re considering any surgery in one of these countries, here are some tips to help you save money:

  1. Get Multiple Quotes: Consult multiple dentists or hospitals to compare prices and treatment plans.
  2. Ask About Discounts: Inquire about cash payment discounts or bundled treatment packages.
  3. Consider Medical Tourism: Traveling to a neighboring country for treatment can significantly reduce costs.
  4. Explore Financing Options: Look for hospitals that offer financing solutions to help spread the cost over time.
  5. Plan for Additional Expenses: Don’t forget to factor in travel, accommodation, and other miscellaneous expenses when budgeting for your dental surgery abroad.

Conclusion: A Strategy for Financial Wellness

As Singapore’s cost of living and healthcare expenses continue to rise, it’s crucial to explore all available avenues for financial relief. Overseas medical treatment using CPF Medisave is a practical solution that not only helps manage immediate healthcare expenses but also lays the foundation for a more secure retirement future. By staying informed and making informed decisions, you can achieve greater financial wellness while safeguarding your health and well-being.

Other good readings:

  • HMI – FAQ on the using Medisave overseas
  • CPF Medisave FAQ – can-i-use-my-medisave-for-overseas-treatment-hospitalisation?

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