February wasn't a great month for me. I fell ill shortly after Chinese New Year and had the worst flu of my life. It was probably the H1N1 virus which is still running amok in Singapore.
After the fever, the sore throat, the body aches and the runny nose were all over, I was left with a lingering cough that transformed itself into bronchitis. I've been coughing and wheezing and having difficulty breathing. I've been coughing so much that my ribcage is hurting.
In the past few weeks, I had gone twice to see the same doctor, who had prescribed cough mixture, Salbutamol, a course of steroids and a course of antibiotics. None of these worked, and today I went to see another doctor. This doctor gave me six kinds of medicines, including three types of sprays. This is the first time in my life I'm using sprays. I think that they are supposed to be very effective, so I'm pleased.
My medical bill was $175. That's a rather big bill for treating a cough, albeit a bad one. I'm glad that I work for an employer which pays fully for all such medical expenses.
I'll take a moment here to discuss medical benefits for employees. It's my perception that in Singapore, foreign MNCs are generally much more generous than local companies, about granting medical benefits to employees. By local companies, I mean the likes of, say, SIA, DBS, Keppel, CDL, SMRT and so on. I don't know whether my perception is correct, so I invite my readers to comment and share their experiences.
I'm working for a European bank which will pretty much pay for 100% of my outpatient medical expenses, and those of my wife and children. It doesn't matter whether I see a general practitioner or a specialist. I am also free to choose any clinic I like (in other words, I don't have to go to a pre-approved list of panel doctors).
My employer will also cover the medical expenses of an employee's partner, regardless of whether they are married or not. As a matter of fact, my employer will cover the medical expenses of the employee's gay partner. Also, if I remember correctly, my employer will cover the medical expenses of your illegitimate children (but I think that there are some rules on the maximum number of illegitimate children permissible).
I can't see the likes of SIA or DBS offering such benefits. Nor the Civil Service, that's for sure. What about you?
The HR policies of European MNCs in Singapore are influenced by their headquarters back in Europe, where they actually have, you know, human rights. Generally, it isn't considered proper to discriminate against an employee because of reasons such as his race, age, religion, gender, marital status or sexual orientation.
But that's in Europe. Not Singapore.