Opt for better coverage
Employers need to buy medical insurance with coverage of at least $15,000 a year for hospitalisation fees such as inpatient care and day surgery during their foreign domestic worker's (FDW) stay here.
This covers 97 per cent of all inpatient and day surgery bills at public hospitals, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in a parliamentary written reply in August.
He was responding to a question posed by Mr Patrick Tay, an MP for West Coast GRC, about the recourse that employers can take if their domestic helper has an underlying mental illness, cancer or critical illness.
Mr Lim added: "For the minority of employers who face genuine difficulties in paying their FDWs' medical bills, they can seek assistance from medical social workers at the relevant healthcare institutions."
He also suggested individual employers could voluntarily buy additional insurance for greater coverage, or send their FDWs for more medical examinations before employment to check for pre-existing illnesses.
Most basic plans offered by insurance companies cost under $250 for 26 months of coverage.
On average, a 26-month plan will cost about $100 more if the hospitalisation coverage is doubled from $15,000 to $30,000.
The plans also include personal accident insurance with a minimum coverage of $40,000.
FDW employment agencies told The New Paper that they usually advise their clients to choose an insurance plan with higher coverage.
Ms Shirley Ng, director of Orange Employment Agency, said most clients choose the basic plans for younger helpers and are willing to pay a higher premium only if they are hiring a helper above 35 years old.
She said: "The increase in premium is marginal, but it can make a difference because if your helper is unwell, she is your responsibility until the doctor certifies she is fit to fly home."
Mr Gabriel Ee, director of Island Maids, said: "Some employers do not see the necessity (for a more expensive plan) and will just buy a basic plan because it is rare for medical bills to go beyond $15,000.
"But it can get painful if you are the exception. The extra coverage will buy you peace of mind."