What Do You Need To Know Before Getting A Medical Card?

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Medical cards are a type of insurance to cover the cost of your medical treatments or hospitalisation. They are a type of medical insurance coverage, but are not the same as critical illness insurance. 

Click here to learn more about the difference between a medical card and critical illness insurance

However, there are many medical cards available on the market. How would you know which one to sign-up for? Here are a few things you should know before applying for a medical card.

Waiting period

Most insurance policies, including medical cards, will have a waiting period. This is a length of time before you can claim some or all of the policy benefits. Generally, the waiting period will differ based on the terms and conditions of each individual policy and insurance company.

Typically, the waiting period is around 30 to 120 days, but some policies may offer a no-waiting period for certain types of coverage. Always make sure that you understand and know the terms and duration of the waiting period of your medical card so you are able to use it when you need it.

Medical exclusions

Depending on the medical card you apply for, there may be a few specific risks under certain conditions that will not be covered. These exclusions should be clearly listed in the policy. There are usually two different types of exclusions – general exclusion, which is the risks that are not covered by this policy and applies to everyone; and specific exclusion, which is the risks that are not covered only for you. 

For example, certain things such as some dental or cosmetic conditions may be classified under general exclusion. On the other hand, if you suffer from a pre-existing knee issue, that may not be included in your medical card coverage.

Standalone vs rider

Standalone medical cards are policies that offer coverage for medical treatments, hospitalisation, or other medical benefits only. On the other hand, rider medical cards are considered an additional medical coverage plan that goes with your existing health insurance policy. 

Be aware of what type of policy you are signing up for as there are some key differences between the two. Standalone policies are generally cheaper because it only covers medical benefits, therefore having a lower premium.

Total premiums for medical riders may be higher, but also tend to offer richer medical benefits. Neither one is truly better than the other. You will need to decide which is the most suitable plan for your current situation.

Pro tip! We’ve made finding the right insurance product a whole lot easier for you on our insurance products listing pages.


Medical cards with a deductible is one way to reduce the cost of your medical insurance. A deductible is basically a specific amount that needs to be paid upfront before your medical card will cover your medical costs. For example, if you purchase a plan with a RM5,000 deductible, and your hospital bill is RM10,000, you will have to pay RM5,000, while your insurer covers the remaining amount. 

If you are wondering, yes, zero-deductible policies do exist. With it, you won’t have to pay anything when you are hospitalised, as your hospital bill will be fully covered under your plan. Under such a policy, your medical card will cover all of your hospital bills. Of course, deductible policies will have a lower premium than zero-deductible policies.


Medical cards might sound great so far, but remember that everything has limits. Most medical card policies have room & board, ICU, annual and lifetime limits that determine how much you can claim from this policy. That is why you should always have a clear understanding of the limits on your medical card, and whether your limits will increase as you grow older. 

Sub-limits also exist. These are your insurance room & board limits, which refers to the costs for your hospital accommodation, depending on the type of room you choose and how many days you are admitted. The same goes for admissions in the ICU. 

If you are not keen on having limits on your insurance claims, you can consider as-charged policies that have no sub-limits for different bill categories. In other words, your insurance will cover your whole medical bill, subject to your annual and lifetime limits. This of course means that you will need to pay higher premiums for higher limits. As such, you will need to do your homework and find the best coverage at a premium that you can afford. If you are lost, you can try consulting a medical card specialist to get the advice you need.

Having the best possible medical care when you least expect it is crucial. However, you will not want to break the bank and drain all of your hard earned savings for it either. You do not want to be compromising on the quality and quantity of treatments just because you can’t afford it. That is why it is best to get a comprehensive medical plan early on, so that you can get good coverage for an affordable price.

This article was first published in August 2022 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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