Everyone knows they should go for screening. After all, catching a serious ailment too late could mean death or huge medical bills. But fewer people actually go for regular screening.
So how much does it actually cost to get screened? Well, that depends on what you're getting screened for.
Most clinics and hospitals maintain a full list of screening procedures for various ailments which you can pick and choose from.
But if you've got nothing in particular in mind and just want a general health screening, most hospitals will provide a variety of comprehensive health screening packages which combine the most common conditions.
The confusing thing is that hospitals' packages can differ quite a bit in terms of types of screening offered and cost.
On a basic level, a health screening package should entail a comprehensive physical examination. The doctor should take your height and weight, measure your BMI, and check your vision. Other standard procedures include blood sugar (for diabetes), cholesterol/lipid test and urine analysis.
Some hospitals/clinics will also let you choose some add-ons to your package at a fee, which you should consider if there are particular conditions you are worried about or predisposed to.
Here's a sampling of some packages in the private and public healthcare systems.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Package name: Essential Health Package
Includes: Comprehensive Physical Examination, body fat analysis, vision assessment, blood sugar, cholesterol test, urine analysis, electrocardiogram.
Package name: General package
Includes: All of the above + full blood count, kidney function, stool occult blood text, chest x-ray
Changi General Hospital
Package name: Core Health Screening
Includes: Physical examination, height and weight, BMI, visual acuity, kidney function test, liver function test, diabetes screen, cholesterol screen, 12 leads electrocardiogram, urine analysis, full blood count, hepatitis A and B screen.
National University Hospital
Package name: Basic Screening
Includes: Physical examination, blood pressure, BMI, height and weight, visual acuity, cholesterol profile, diabetic screen, urine analysis
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital / Jurong Community Hospital
Package name: Essential Package
Includes: Comprehensive physical examination, obesity screening
Package name: Enhanced A Package (Female)
Includes: All of the above + faecal occult blood test
Package name: Enhanced B Package
Includes: All of the above
Package name: Lite
Includes: BMI, visual acuity, blood profile, lipid (cholesterol) profile, uric acid, thyroid profile, syphilis screen, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, liver profile, fasting glucose, stool analysis, urine analysis, kidney profile
Package name: Deluxe
Includes: All of the above + calcium profile, spirometry, inflammatory marker and more detailed kidney profile
Raffles Medical Group
Package name: Raffles Deluxe
Includes: Physical examination, BMI, Visual acuity, complete haematological parameters, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), liver function test, kidney function test, blood glucose lipid (cholesterol) profile, uric acid, thyroid screen, bone mineral status (calcium and phosphate), rheumatoid factor, hepatitis A and B screening, tumour marker (liver and colon), HIV screen, venereal disease, urinalysis, stool occult blood, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram
Dr Tan & Partners Clinic @ The Bencoolen / Clinic @ Somerset
Package name: 108 Health Screening Package
Includes: Haematology, haemoglobin, diabetic screen, kidney function, bone and joint screen, cholesterol (lipid) screen, liver and biliary screen, tumour marker (colon cancer), urinalysis, blood pressure, BMI
Price: $176 (usual price $268)
Mount Elizabeth Hospital
Package name: Plus Package
Includes: Comprehensive physical examination, BMI, visual acuity, full blood count, cholesterol profile, kidney function, liver function, thyroid function, bone joint and mineral screening (uric acid, calcium/phosphate), tumour markers (liver, colon, prostate for men, ovary for women), urine analysis, cardiac screening, disease screening (diabetes, autoimmune disease, glaucoma, hepatitis A, B and C), stool occult blood, chest x-ray, pap spear for women + one of the following additional tests: treadmill test, ultrasound liver, ultrasound kidney, ultrasound thyroid, ultrasound prostate for men, mammogram and breast ultrasound for women
Price: $708 for men, $738 for women
Can't you just go to a polyclinic for health screening?
Polyclinics do not offer comprehensive health screenings. They do, however, provide screenings for certain specific diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol. Your doctor should be able to advise you on what to get screened for and at what age depending on your health and family history.
Is there a difference between public and private hospitals/clinics?
The main difference is price. The public healthcare providers offer packages that are generally cheaper than their private equivalents. Private hospitals also tend to offer packages with a more exhaustive list of screening procedures.
However, health screening packages can differ quite dramatically between hospitals and clinics even within the public sector not just in terms of price but also the types of screening included, so it's important that you compare various packages.
Can you use Medisave to pay for health screening?
As you can see, going for a comprehensive health screening is not cheap. Unfortunately, Medisave can only be used for a limited range of screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. If you already have a chronic disease like diabetes or hypertension, you might also be able to make claims for screening as part of outpatient treatment.
How often should you go for screening?
Here's the good news: for most of us under a certain age, a comprehensive health screening does not need to be carried out yearly. In fact, certain types of screening like mammograms and x-rays can actually be harmful and should not be overdone.
The necessity of a comprehensive health screening really depends on your age, health and family history. When in doubt, ask your doctor what he would recommend.
Finally, don't be too put off by the prices of screening packages. Not going for screening and falling sick as a result could end up costing you a lot more in the long run, so when you research a certain age you definitely want to consider going for comprehensive health screening more regularly.