Panel vs. Non-panel Doctors: Which one to choose?
Those who have an Integrated Shield Plan (IP) definitely know what a panel doctor is. Those who don’t have one seek medical services from non-panel doctors instead.
If you’re still torn about the difference between the two, then we’ll help you choose! In this guide, we sorted out the things you need to know about panel and non-panel doctors here in Singapore.
Why choose a panel doctor?
A panel doctor is part of a pool of preferred specialists by health insurance companies.
That said, panel doctors have signed an enforceable contract to treat patients at predetermined rates. This means that IP policy holders can avail medical services at discounted rates.
You’ll be protected by your IP as well. So any consultation, hospitalisation, and medical procedure will be covered and subsidised.
Your out-of-pocket expenses will also be capped at $3,000 a year when you have a rider, which is an add-on benefit on top of your IP that further reduces medical bills.
What are the insurers that provide panel doctors?
In Singapore, there are seven major health insurance companies that offer IPs. Insurance companies have different sets of panel doctors, which you can readily see on their respective websites.
To give you an idea, here’s a roundup of major health insurers and their corresponding IPs:
|Health Insurance Companies||Estimated Costs of Premiums Offered||No. of Panel Doctors or Specialists|
|AXA||$40 to $10,077||More than 300|
|Raffles||$201 to $4,664||More than 150|
|Prudential||$306 to $4,180||More than 700|
|AIA||$50 to $9,442||More than 400|
|Great Eastern||$152 to $7,500||More than 4,000|
|Aviva||$70 to $9,097||More than 300|
|NTUC Income||$35 to $2,037||More than 400|
Why choose a non-panel doctor?
Choosing a non-panel doctor means you have no limit or any form of restriction. The fact that they’re not part of a panel doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t excel in their specialisation though.
You wouldn’t have to worry about familiarity when it comes to non-panel doctors. They could be your childhood doctor or your go-to doctor from any public or private hospital.
If you’ve been seeing a non-panel doctor for a long time, it also means that they know your condition and medical history best.
Keep in mind that when choosing a non-panel doctor, you could also incur a 5% co-payment of medical bills but with no cap, seeing that the $3,000 cap only applies to panel doctors.
A Comparison Between Panel and Non-panel Doctors in Singapore
Still can’t make up your mind? Then you don’t have to worry! Check out the table below for a comparison between panel and non-panel doctors.
|Panel Doctors||Non-panel Doctors|
|A limited option of doctors based on the insurer’s list of preferred specialists||A flexible option to choose your preferred or family doctor|
|Per policy year, co-payment for bills are capped at $3,000||Per policy year, co-payment for bills could be more than $3,000 with no cap|
|Specialist doctors have at least 5 years of experience and passed a stringent criteria set by the insurer||Doctors might not have passed a stringent criteria set by the insurer|
|There may be restriction in choice of hospital treatments as some insurers limit it to private hospitals only||There’s no restriction in choice of private or public hospital treatment|
|In an incident where you need to be treated by a non-panel specialist, you may need to pay more than the usual rate of panel doctors||Regular rates are set by non-panel specialists, but all within the Ministry of Health (MOH) benchmark|
Generally, both panel and non-panel doctors are skilled professionals. The only major difference they have is that non-panel doctors are not part of the insurer’s list of preferred doctors.
However, that doesn’t mean that panel doctors are way better than non-panel doctors or vice versa. It’s simply a case of exclusivity set by insurers to provide individuals with healthcare services at reasonable costs.