Beginner’s Guide To Getting Your First Critical Illness Coverage

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Falling sick is no fun.

But getting a major illness, like stroke or kidney failure? That could really take a physical and financial toll on you. Wouldn’t it be a relief to have someone else take care of all the costs of falling sick, so that you could just focus on recovery? Well, here’s where critical illness insurance comes in.

What is critical illness insurance?

This insurance gives you financial support if you are diagnosed with a critical illness, provided that the illness is covered by the insurance policy. This financial support comes in the form of a lump sum payout, which you can use to cover any expense.

Why do you need critical illness insurance?

Here’s a grim reality check: critical illnesses are among the top causes of death in Malaysia.

For example, heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases were responsible for 15% and 8% of medically certified deaths in 2019 respectively. They don’t just happen to the elderly, either. Malaysians in their late 30s – or even younger – are being affected by heart disease.

Not only are critical illnesses common, their treatment can be expensive if you opt for private healthcare. A coronary angioplasty can set you back around RM30,000 at a private hospital.

This doesn’t account for the non-direct costs you might incur, such as the loss of income from taking leave from work, or paying for any long-term supplements needed.

That’s why having critical illness coverage can be helpful. It gives you a financial buffer so you can focus on recovery and not worry about whether you can afford the cost of falling ill.

How is it different from a medical card?

“Hold on a minute,” you might think. Isn’t this what your medical card already does?

There’s a common misconception that a medical card is the same as critical illness insurance, or that you don’t need one if you have the other. It’s an easy mistake to make – after all, they both cover health-related expenses.

But these two types of insurance aren’t the same. Here’s how they differ:

Medical cardCritical illness insurance
Applies toHospitalisation costsCovered critical illnesses
Type of financial supportCoverage for your hospital bills onlyLump sum payment that can be used for anything

For example, consider someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. A medical card would be able to cover their costs of hospitalisation – this includes consultation, prescription drugs and treatment and surgery costs. But it doesn’t cover the indirect costs of a cancer diagnosis, which could include:

  • Loss of income due taking an extended break from work
  • Installing equipment at home that can help with mobility, comfort, or recovery
  • Transportation to and from the hospital
  • Mental health services
  • Childcare costs

On the other hand, a lump sum payout from a critical illness coverage can be used for anything, whether it’s the cost of treatment or the indirect costs of an illness.

But the takeaway here is not that having critical illness insurance is better than a medical card. Your medical card has a wider range of coverage that can give you a financial buffer if you need treatment for a general medical condition. On the other hand, critical illness insurance is like an additional layer of protection for specific illnesses like cancer or stroke, which may incur longer-term expenses. In short, it complements your medical card.

Early stage vs advanced stage coverage

Not all critical illness plans are the same.

Typically, critical illness plans only cover advanced stages of an illness. Some plans only cover the early stages. There are also insurance plans that cover both stages. But what’s the difference between early stage and advanced stage coverage?

Early stage coverageAdvanced stage coverage
CoverageCovers early stages of a critical illness, e.g. early coronary artery diseaseCovers advanced stages of a critical illness, e.g. coronary artery by-pass surgery
Useful forCovering the initial costs of the illness, so you don’t have to pay them out-of-pocketCovering the medical costs of the illness, as well as any loss of income or lifestyle changes
So when you’re looking for a new plan, look out for which stage it covers. You don’t want to try to make a claim, only to be told that your condition must get worse before you’re eligible.

How to get critical illness insurance online

Buying a new insurance plan is probably not something you look forward to, right up there with “doing your taxes” or “renewing your driver’s license”. We don’t blame you – getting insurance can involve a lot of time and paperwork.

But times have changed and getting the right insurance coverage has never been easier. With AXA eCritical Early Care, you can sign up for a critical illness insurance plan completely online, within minutes. Here’s what you get with eCritical Early Care:

  • Sum insured of up to RM250,000
  • Coverage for 50 critical illness conditions
  • Coverage for early stage and advanced stage illnesses
  • Coverage up to 80 years old
  • 50% payout of sum insured for early stage
  • 100% payout of sum insured for advanced stage (total claims payout for early and advanced stages are subject to the total sum insured)

You don’t have to fork out lots of money for sufficient coverage, either. eCritical Early Care comes with affordable monthly premiums. Coverage starts from as low as RM16 a month for RM250,000 coverage (based on a male non-smoker aged 18). This gives you a financial safety net without straining your budget.

Getting critical illness coverage is quick, easy and affordable. Find out more about eCritical Early Care at AXA.

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