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10 Things to Know Before Getting a Medical Card 

Created: 4 August July 2021

With increasing healthcare costs, make sure you and your family are well protected by investing in a medical plan. As there are numerous plans in the market, it may be wise to do a bit of research before deciding on a plan that will give you the best options and value.

Happy Chinese Family

A medical card comes as a life saver in your time of need. Being diagnosed with a health setback or an unfortunate accident can mean requiring hospitalisation or even surgery. In such an event, having medical insurance or a medical card will help cover for the medical costs for you to get the much-needed treatment. Similarly, having a family medical card that provides coverage to every member of your family will offer you peace of mind. Before you decide on which insurer and plan to choose, here are 10 things you need to know about a medical card:

1. Family coverage options 

As you plan to get medical coverage, plan wisely to get your spouse and children covered in one policy. Some policies offer coverage to children born after the policy has been purchased, with a maximum of five children allowed under each family plan.

2. Waiting period

Most medical insurance plans have a waiting period, which is the time span where you cannot make any claims from the insurer. Typically, the waiting period is between 30 and 90 days but some insurance companies may even offer a no-waiting period for certain types of coverage. It’s important to take note of this so that you are not caught unawares in any emergency immediately after purchasing your policy.

3. Premiums

Premiums are the payment you need to make to the insurer to keep your policy valid. The payment can be made either monthly, quarterly, half yearly or annually, which is decided upon by the policy holder. Missed premiums can cause your policy to lapse so be sure to make those payments on time.

4. Exclusions

Exclusions are specific conditions or circumstances listed in the policy which outlines that benefits will not be provided. For example, if the policyholder is already suffering from cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and so on, their treatment costs will not be covered. 

5. Lifetime and annual limits

Most medical plans have lifetime and annual limits that guide the policyholder on just how much they can claim from their insurer. The lifetime limit is the total amount of eligible medical benefit that is claimable throughout the medical plan’s duration. On the other hand, the annual limit is the total amount that you can claim for each policy year. Take note that some insurance companies now offer “No Lifetime” limit and even “High Annual Limits” that will give you coverage into your golden years.

6. Limit on Room and Board and intensive care unit (ICU) stay

The hospital room and board is the cost for your accommodation if you’re admitted in a hospital. The coverage is based on the type of room chosen and the number of days of stay. Similarly, there’s also a limit on number of days of stay in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a plan. If you do your research well, you will find insurance companies that now offer no limit to length of stay in hospital or ICU.

7. Deductible

A deductible is a cost sharing mechanism with a specified amount or capped limit that you must pay first before your insurance will begin paying your medical costs. Many medical insurance policies come with a zero or higher deductible option. A zero deductible plan means you pay nothing when you are admitted in a hospital as the total cost will be borne by the insurer. Or you can opt to take a higher deductible of RM10,000 or even up to RM50,000, where you share a greater cost via paying for medical bills upfront, but gain in the long term as it lowers your monthly or annual premium. Typically, those with medical plans that are covered by their employers will take a higher deductible to enjoy lower premiums and convert to a zero deductible plan when their employment medical plan ends. 

8. Rider or Standalone

A rider is an additional coverage to your health insurance or investment-linked policy. A critical illness rider for example, helps provide additional coverage when you’re diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer. A standalone hospital & surgical plan is a term insurance plan that provides coverage such as hospital, surgical, outpatient and other medical benefits; it is purely a medical insurance plan. 

9. Guaranteed Renewal 

The insurance company will guarantee your policy renewal as long as your premiums are paid on time and you want to continue having the insurance coverage.  However, the guaranteed renewal does take into consideration that the lifetime claim limit has not been exceeded and you have not reached the maximum eligible age for coverage. 

10. Non-Guaranteed Renewal 

As for non-guaranteed renewal, the approval of your insurance policy is subject to the insurance company’s discretion.  For instance, if you have multiple claims for a same illness, and there’s a probability that it can happen in the future, the insurer may decide not to renew your policy. Non-guaranteed renewables are usually less costly.

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