First, employers need to understand their responsibilities when it comes to helpers and healthcare. Employers are responsible for any medical expenses incurred by their helpers and must buy medical insurance when hiring a maid.
Employers also have to send their FDW for a medical screening, or 6ME, twice a year. The medical examination screens for pregnancy and a range of infectious diseases. Results need to be certified by a Singapore-registered doctor and the employer must cover any expenses arising from the screening. Many employers don’t know that 6ME only applies to helpers under 50 years old, and if your helper is over 50 she only needs to go for a medical examination upon renewal of her Work Permit.
What if there’s an emergency?
You will have already purchased medical insurance for your helper, so you need to check what this insurance covers. Normally, it only covers hospitalisation in cases where you helper stays in B2 or C wards at public hospitals . If she goes to a B1 ward or higher, you’ll have to pay between 30%–50% of the bill.
In case these ward types are as confusing to you as they were to me, check out the type of wards at the Singapore General Hospital.
Note that some insurers cover stays will also cover stays at certain private hospitals, but this is relatively rare.
My helper’s insurance only covers hospitalisation, but she does not need to be admitted. What do I do?
If your helper is unwell but does not need to be hospitalised, it is likely that the insurance you purchased will not cover her medical expenses. In this case, you’ll have to bear the financial burden of any doctors’ charges, so you may want to explore various treatment options. These include government polyclinics and private medical practitioners.
Anybody can be treated at one of the 18 government polyclinics, but as a pass holder you helper will be charged more than a citizen or PR. A consultation will set you back $51.50 at the polyclinic and $67.8 at a family physician clinic.
In Singapore many clinics offer special deals for FDWs. Here’s a list of a few places you may want to look at if your FDW needs medical assistance:
Osteopathic Pain Relief Centre: For FDWs therapy is completely free. Treatment is available on weekdays and weekends.
Human Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME): Offers free dental care for FDWs, although treatments were suspended at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
HealthPal: offers subsidised compulsory screening for FDWs and works with over 500 clinics around Singapore where your helper can get a consultation for only $13 or dental polishing and scaling for $70 if you sign her up to one of HealthPal’s plans which cost around $2 a month.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic Optometry Clinic: offers eye exams for $5 to students and the public including FDWs.
HelpHer Do Better: is a social enterprise which focuses on FDW wellness and health. It offers free activities like yoga, Zumba and meditation and wellness workshops hosted by experts in Singapore.
What about prevention?
It’s really important to know what to do when a medical urgency does occur, but you may also want to encourage their helper to look after her health in the first place to prevent emergencies from happening. In fact, doctors find that many of the medial issues helpers face are related to minor injuries at work that are built up over time.
Tips you could give your helper to avoid physical injuries at work:
Break up the hours when ironing.
Make sure the ironing board is waist high (this will prevent back problems).
Report any broken home appliances immediately to you, and ensure they are properly fixed before using them again.
When lifting heavy objects, bend at the knees and not at the waist.
Never stand on chairs, desks or boxes to reach high up areas (you may also want to invest into a sturdy ladder if your helper does needs to reach high shelves frequently).