How to choose the best medical card in Malaysia?

05 July 2023 | Kuala Lumpur

Are you looking for a suitable medical takaful/insurance card? Deciding on a medical card is crucial as it provides financial protection in an unexpected medical situation. With the rising cost of healthcare in Malaysia, medical bills can quickly pile up and become unaffordable for most people. The out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenditure for Malaysia has been funding 74% of its private healthcare services. In 2019, The World Bank reported that Malaysia’s OOP score stood at 34.57%, which is particularly true for those with chronic illnesses. Out-of-pocket expenditure is a direct outlay by households to health practitioners and suppliers to pay for healthcare costs.

As such, it is very important that you have the protection of a medical card so that the cost of medical care does not affect your savings or retirement. However, we understand that it can be daunting when trying to compare the various medical cards out in the market. Furthermore, there are a lot of complex terminologies and jargons, and a range of benefits to weigh out among all the different medical cards out there. In this article, we will break it down for you and highlight the key features of a medical card that you should look out for. However, you need to take note that it is difficult to make an apple-to-apple comparison since every plan has its own unique features.

Choosing the right Takaful/Insurance Provider

Range of panel hospitals

First, you want to start by shortlisting a reputable takaful provider that provides a wide range of panel hospitals in Malaysia that will accept your medical card. This is an important step as you should be covered by having access to the inpatient and outpatient panels no matter where you are in Malaysia. This would ease your admission and claim process since it will be a lot easier at panel hospitals.

Compliance with Shariah law

Next, if you are looking for a protection based on Shariah principles, medical takaful is the right option to participate.

Ease of claims

Another aspect to consider when deciding on a reliable takaful/insurance provider is the ease of claims and customer support provided.

What to look out for when comparing medical cards?

Now that you’ve decided on the right takaful operator for yourself, how do you look out for what is important when deciding on participating for medical takaful/insurance? Here are the things you should consider when deciding on the right medical card for you or your family:

Lifetime and Annual Coverage Limit

The annual limit refers to the amount that a certificate owner/policyholder can claim from the medical plan in a year. For example, if the annual limit is RM100,000, you can only claim this amount in that certificate/policy year. In situations where the annual limit is fully utilised, the restoration benefit in a plan allows for the annual limit to be restored for that year.

Some takaful/insurance providers instead provide a lifetime limit within a certain amount, with the limit deducted accordingly when there are claims, gradually decreasing over the years.

Inpatient Room & Board Coverage

This refers to the room and board coverage per day. For example, if you choose a hospital room and board of RM150, and the room rate is RM200 per day, you will have to pay the difference of RM50 on your own. The coverage per day depends on the plan, where most insurers or takaful providers would give you the flexibility to choose from a few options as low as RM100 per day, and some 'as charged’. ‘As charged’ means that all expenses incurred by the person covered/insured are covered. The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is typically ‘as charged’, though it may be capped at a certain number of days per year. For normal room and board, medical cards would also differ in the maximum number of hospital stay days they would cover.

Outpatient Coverage

Outpatient benefit refers to expenses that occur when you receive ambulatory care or care outside the hospital for services and treatments that do not require you to be admitted to the hospital. For example, regular doctor visits, diagnostic tests, screenings and prescription drugs. Make sure you check to see if your plan sufficiently covers outpatient care, regular check-ups, tests, medication costs. Plans would differ in the number of days of pre and post-hospitalisation it covers, with most plans covering 60 days.

Deductible Feature

You need to decide if you would like to take up the deductible option, if the takaful/insurance plan offers one. A deductible is the amount you pay before your medical takaful/insurance plan starts to pay for your coverage. Most of the time, opting for a deductible will reduce the contribution/premiums, however, it is important to select the right amount that you’re most comfortable paying upfront. Some plans would waive the deductible upon major accidents and major claims like cancer, heart attack and stroke. For the FWD Medical Care+ plan, you can save up as high as 45% when you choose RM1,000 or RM2,000 in deductibles.

Daily Cash Allowance

Typically, this benefit is in a standalone hospital cash plan that will provide a daily cash benefit for each day of your stay in the hospital. Some medical plans in the market would provide an allowance for each day of hospital stay, only at Malaysian government hospitals.

Outpatient Physiotherapy Treatment

As part of post-surgery care, post-operative physiotherapy is a type of rehabilitation that helps you in managing the pain, and restore your range of motion, strength and stability so that you can get back to your day-to-day life. Usually, this comprises advice and recommended exercises to improve your overall condition, and to treat those who sustained injuries through sports, accidents, surgery and illness or ageing. If your medical card covers this, you will not have to worry about the cost of rehabilitation, hence allowing you to recover faster.

Alternative Medical Practitioners

Some of the more popular alternative therapies and medications include acupuncture, chiropractic, and traditional Chinese medicine which people do seek to complement their post hospitalisation recovery. Check if your medical card covers alternative medicine.

Second Medical Opinion

Does the plan also provide for you to seek a second medical opinion? This will be helpful to evaluate your medical condition from a different perspective before deciding on the treatment forward.

Psychiatric Treatment

In some situations, the care of trained mental health professionals is needed to provide treatment for mental conditions in an inpatient facility. Check if the plan you are considering covers this.

Hospital Companion Bed

In the event of hospitalisation, having the flexibility to have your loved one accompany you during your hospital stay will help you get the support and care when you need it most. Check if your plans provide a bed for the accompanying person.

Covers for conditions like kidney, dengue and cancer

Some plans do cover outpatient treatments needed for cancer treatment, kidney dialysis, and dengue fever. Especially for conditions like kidney dialysis which requires long-term care, having this covered by the medical card will ease your financial burden as you go for regular treatment.

Compassionate Benefit

Besides medical support, check if the plan also provides a compassionate benefit upon death, including accidental death which can be used to pay for funeral expenses.

Medical card is a basic part of your medical coverage

Now that you understand the various product features that you should look out for in a medical card, this should help you in deciding which medical card to go for. It is difficult to have an apple-to-apple comparison as the plans offered by various insurers and takaful providers differ in cost and features. While some plans in the market may be priced very low, you will need to check if they cover the important features. The key thing is that the medical card should cover you comprehensively in the event of a hospitalisation.

Do take note that medical cards will have some exclusions. For example, pre-existing conditions are usually not covered.

FWD offers a medical takaful plan that covers you comprehensively for inpatient and outpatient medical treatments with no lifetime limit. This includes reimbursement for a second, medical opinion, companion bed, inpatient psychiatric treatment, access to alternative medical practitioners and more, all at an affordable price.

The medical card is also equipped with a restoration benefit which lets you restore your annual limit once should you run out within the same certificate year. To further enhance your coverage, the plan comes with accidental death benefit and compassionate benefit so you can be assured that your family is financially taken care of when you’re not around. Apply now to enjoy savings of up to 45% on your contribution by opting for deductibles.