How Do You Choose A Medical Card In Malaysia?

How Do You Choose A Medical Card In Malaysia?

Getting medical coverage for the first time? If you need something straightforward and affordable, you may need a standalone medical card. Here’s a comparison of standalone medical cards in Malaysia, and how to choose a plan that suits your needs.

But first, what does a medical card cover?

If you’re a fresh graduate who is no longer eligible to be included under your parents’ medical insurance coverage, it’s important to get your own medical card. That’s because private medical costs are high, and are increasing every year. That’s where a medical card comes in handy – it covers the cost of hospitalisation and surgical treatment, so you don’t have to pay these costs out of your own pocket.

In Malaysia, most medical and health plans are sold with investment-linked insurance products, so it’s easy to mix up your medical card with other insurance policies. But knowing the difference between these policies is important so you can identify gaps in your coverage. Here are the differences:

  • Medical card: Covers the cost of hospitalisation and surgical treatment.
  • Life insurance: Pays a lump sum if you pass away or experience total permanent disability (when someone is not able to work due to an illness or injury).
  • Critical illness insurance. Pays a lump sum if you are diagnosed with one of the covered critical illnesses
  • Hospitalisation income insurance. Gives you a daily cash payment during hospitalisation.

What’s the difference between a standalone medical card and medical rider?

There are two types of medical cards: a standalone medical card, and a medical card rider. Here are some of the differences:

Standalone medical cardMedical card rider
PolicyIs sold as a standalone policyIs sold as a rider that is attached to a main plan, such as an investment-linked policy (ILP)
PremiumPremiums increase with ageIf purchased with an ILP, premiums don’t increase with age (but may be adjusted to keep up with medical inflation)
AffordabilityGenerally cheaperGenerally more expensive
Cash valueNoneMay have cash value generated from investment returns

Getting a medical rider that comes with an investment-linked life insurance policy can be a good idea if you have dependents who rely on you financially, or if you need an all-in-one life and medical plan that covers your family too.

But if you’ve just entered the workforce, if you don’t need life insurance just yet and you’re looking for an affordable policy to cover your medical expenses, you could consider a standalone medical card.

Comparison of standalone medical card plans in Malaysia

One of the hardest parts of insurance shopping is going through a dozen or so brochures (or sitting through your insurance agent friends’ pitches) to find a policy that fits your needs.

But don’t worry – we’ve done some of the research for you. Here’s a comparison of 13 different standalone medical cards. In the table below, you’ll find a summary of their key features and sample premium charges based on your age and gender. If you’re viewing this on your desktop, you can use Airtable’s filters to quickly identify plans with features that are important to you (such as no annual limits or plans that allow online applications).

Note: information is accurate as of December 2020. Premium charges are for sample reference only – your actual premiums may differ based on your occupation, medical history, medical inflation and other factors. For some plans, entry ages for infants were rounded down to 0.

What should you look out for when choosing a medical card?

a) Annual limit

This is the maximum you can claim from your insurer within one policy year (based on the date your policy starts, not during the start of the year).

b) Lifetime limit

This is the maximum you can claim from your insurer. If you have reached this limit, you will no longer enjoy coverage.

c) Deductible

This is an upfront payment you have to make before your insurance covers the medical costs. For instance, if your plan has a RM1000 deductible, and you have an RM5,000 medical bill, you’ll have to pay RM1,000 upfront before your insurance covers RM4,000.

Some plans have no deductibles, while others may give you the option to choose a deductible in exchange for lower premiums. Choosing a high-deductible plan can make sense, but only if you rarely get sick or injured, and if you’re sure you can afford the deductible.

d) Panel hospital

Your policy comes with a list of panel hospitals – these are the hospitals that are working with your insurer to give you faster admission. For some plans, you may enjoy cashless admissions, where you won’t have to pay any upfront fees.

If you are treated in a hospital that’s not in the panel list, you’ll still enjoy coverage, but you will need to settle your hospital bills first and make a medical claim after you are discharged. This can be a hassle – as well as a burden on your finances – so may want to consider getting a policy that includes your preferred hospitals in their panel list.

e) Length of coverage

Some plans provide coverage until you’re 100; others may only do until you’re 70. As a young consumer, you could apply for a plan that gives shorter coverage first, then review your insurance needs later. But if you’re an older consumer who wants to enjoy continued coverage, you may need to look for a plan that has a longer coverage period, as it could be hard to get approved for coverage again later. 

f) Premium

This refers to the charges you have to pay to enjoy insurance coverage. Premiums are paid on a fixed schedule (monthly, quarterly or annually). Generally, pricier plans offer better benefits.

Premiums for standalone medical cards tend to be affordable when you are young. For example, according to the plans we researched above, the average premium for a 25-year-old man is RM717 a year, or RM59.75 a month. But premiums will rise with age – at 60, you could be paying around RM2,800 a year to enjoy the same coverage.

Which standalone medical card should you consider?

Based on the comparison above, here are a few plans that we think stand out:

  • If you need comprehensive coverage: A-Life Med Regular offers high annual limits (up to RM150,000 per insured item) and zero lifetime limits, up to age 100. It also covers post-hospitalisation treatment for up to 120 days, the longest coverage available in our comparison.
  • If you need protection on a budget: While Takaful Malaysia’s myClick MediCare doesn’t offer the cheapest plan in our comparison, its premiums are on the lower end. It offers better-than-average coverage (no lifetime limit, up to RM100,000 annual limit) for plans in its price range. You can also opt for a deductible plan to enjoy lower premiums.
  • If you need worldwide coverage: The HLA MedGlobal IV Plus plan covers emergency overseas treatments (subject to limitations and exclusions). It also comes with an annual limit of up to RM240,000, although it does not state its lifetime limit.

While we’ve provided some suggestions above, the best medical card for you depends on your specific needs, so don’t forget to do your own research. Before you sign up for a plan, narrow down to a couple of options and read their terms and conditions to decide which plan you like the best.

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