SINGAPORE - Travellers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to fly between Singapore and Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur without quarantine when the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) between the countries opens on Nov 29.
VTLs with Finland, Sweden, India and Indonesia are also scheduled to begin that day, while those with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are expected to start on Dec 6.
But such quarantine-free travel still has its drawbacks. Travellers entering the Republic might have to foot their own medical bills if subsequently found to be infected with the coronavirus.
The Straits Times looks at scenarios where Covid-19 patients are responsible for their medical bills here.
Q: Who currently has their full Covid-19 medical bills paid for by the Government?
A: The Government is currently footing the full Covid-19 medical bills of all Singaporeans, permanent residents (PRs) and long-term pass (LTP) holders - including those who are unvaccinated - except for those who test positive for the virus soon after returning from overseas travel.
Q: Under what circumstances are travellers entering Singapore required to pay for their own Covid-19 medical bills?
A: Singaporeans, PRs and LTP holders who test positive for the virus or have onset of symptoms within 14 days of their arrival in Singapore are responsible for all charges on their medical bills, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's SafeTravel Website.
All short-term visit pass holders have to foot their medical bills if they test positive for Covid-19 at any point during their stay in Singapore.
Q: Does this billing measure apply to Singaporeans, PRs and LTP holders entering Singapore via the VTL scheme?
A: The billing measure applies to all travellers who meet its conditions, regardless of the travel lane they use to enter Singapore.
Q: Under what other circumstances are Singaporeans, PRs and LTP holders here required to pay their own Covid-19 medical bills?
A: Singaporeans, PRs and LTP holders who are unvaccinated against Covid-19 even though they are medically eligible, and who are admitted on or after Dec 8 to hospitals or Covid-19 treatment facilities, will have to foot their own medical bills.
But the Government will still pay for the medical bills of those ineligible for vaccination, such as children under 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Those who are partially vaccinated will not be charged for Covid-19 bills until Dec 31, to allow them time to complete their full regime of jabs.
After this deadline, they will have to foot their own medical bills if they are infected with the virus.
Q: How much can a Covid-19 medical bill be?
A: The median acute hospital bill size for patients who end up in the intensive care unit and also require Covid-19 therapeutics is $25,000, according to an earlier response by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to ST's queries. "Means-tested government subsidies and MediShield Life coverage can reduce the bill to about $2,000 to $4,000 for eligible Singaporeans in subsidised wards," an MOH spokesman had said.
But the bill size would vary depending on the severity of the patient's condition and the type of Covid-19 facility where care is rendered.
Unvaccinated patients who are sent to a Covid-19 treatment facility can expect to be charged $4,500 for a seven-day stay.
"For Singapore citizens, after subsidies and MediShield Life where applicable, the co-payment is around $1,000," the MOH spokesman had added.
Q: What financing arrangements are available for Covid-19 patients who have to foot their own medical bills?
A: Covid-19 patients may tap on regular healthcare financial arrangements for their inpatient medical bills, where applicable.
Singaporeans and PRs may access government subsidies, MediSave, and MediShield Life or Integrated Shield plans to help pay for their bills.
LTP holders may tap on private insurance, if applicable.
Travel insurance with Covid-19 coverage is required for all short-term visit pass, work permit, training work permit and S Pass holders.