The importance of having a medical card

Is medical card necessary?

We explain in this article the importance of having a medical card and why you should have one.

Life and Medical Insurance

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You may need just a little nudge before finally purchasing a medical card. You’ve probably done your research and spoken to a number of insurance agents. But there’s a little voice inside your head that keeps asking: Do you really need a medical card? We’re going to share the importance of having a medical card so you can make up your mind.

What is the function of a medical card?

A medical card is important to pay for your hospital admissions, surgeries and medical treatments.

The primary function of a medical card is to pay for your hospital admissions, surgeries and medical treatments. Your medical card will take care of your medical bills, in return for the regular premium that you pay to the insurance. The amount you’ll pay is normally incomparable and a lot lower than what you’ll receive from your insurance. For example, with a premium of RM200 a month or RM2,400 a year, you’re entitled to claim up to RM2 million a year for your medical bills. The annual limit is about 833 times more than what you pay to your insurance for a year. 

How your medical card helps finance the costs above depends on the plan that you choose. A hospitalization and surgical plan pays for your hospital admissions, surgeries and medical treatments. However, if you choose a hospital income plan, your insurance will instead pay you a fixed amount on a regular basis for a certain number of days that you are hospitalized. 

Read this article to learn more about medical cards. For useful tips to choose the best medical card, read this article.

How does a medical card work in Malaysia?

As mentioned, a medical card pays for your hospital and medical bills. But how does it work, exactly?

Your medical card can either be a cashless or reimbursement policy. Here’s their difference. For a cashless policy, your insurance pays for your hospital and medical bills directly to the hospital. For a reimbursement policy, you will first pay the bills to the hospital, before your insurance reimburses or repays you all of the expenses

If you plan to get a reimbursement policy for your medical card, you can save this article for your future reference. In that article, we simplified the steps for you to claim from your insurance. 

Why is having a medical card important?

Based on the function of a medical card, it’s clear as day that a medical card is important to ensure that you receive the medical care you need, without worrying about the costs. But if you’re on the fence, our following points shall further help you see the importance of having a medical card.

1. To protect your savings

Perhaps, you think that you don’t really need a medical card because you already have a sizable amount of savings. But do you really want to spend your savings on your medical bills? Don’t you wish to spend the savings for life goals that you haven’t fulfilled?

Before you think your savings are enough, consider this data. Just two years ago, Willis Towers Watson’s 2019 Global Medical Trends Survey Report revealed that Malaysia ranked second out of 13 countries in Asia in terms of medical costs. This year, Statista revealed that Malaysia’s gross medical trend cost rate was approximately 12.55%, the second-highest in the Asia Pacific region. Simply put, this data tells us that medical costs in Malaysia are expensive. The costs can soar even higher in the years to come depending on medical inflation. Will your savings still be enough for your future medical use?

Private hospitals vs government hospitals in Malaysia

You may also think that you don’t really need a medical card because you can just go to government hospitals. For most of us, seeking treatments at government hospitals would be the most affordable option. It’s a great option because our government hospitals are some of the world’s best! In fact, based on the 2019 International Living Annual Global Retirement Index, Malaysia ranked first in the world’s best healthcare category for its world-class healthcare services and sophisticated infrastructure. Besides, we can seek treatments at government hospitals without worrying too much about the costs as our public healthcare is heavily subsidized.

But the major downside is arguably having to be on a usually long waiting list. The question is: can you wait? Based on an online survey run by the Malay Mail in 2017, 26% out of 358 respondents cited excessive waiting hours in government clinics or hospitals as the reason for them stopping treatment.

If your medical condition needs immediate attention, how will you manage it? Imagine that there are 1,000 people also needing immediate attention, what are the odds of you getting the first attention? In some cases, your doctor may suggest you seek treatment at a private hospital. But even if you can afford to wait for your turn, you still have to fork out quite an amount of money for some procedures in a government hospital. To give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay, below are the charges by private and government hospitals.

Treatment type Government hospital’s rate (RM) Private hospital’s rate (RM)
Spine surgery15,000 – 36,00040,000 – 55,000
Knee replacement single bilateral10,000 – 35,00025,000 – 45,000
Hip replacement8,000 – 15,00024,000 – 55,000
Stroke treatment4,000 and above35,000 – 75,000
Coronary bypass4,00025,000 – 80,000
Kidney stone3,000 – 10,000 (depending on case complexity)9,000 – 40,000
Chemotherapy200 per treatment50 – 4,000 per cycle
Cataract100 – 5403,500 – 6,000
Angiogram/One stent angioplasty50 – 20015,000 – 45,000
DengueFree1,000 – 3,000
Note: Prices displayed may vary according to healthcare providers, the severity of the medical condition and other additional costs (Source)

Looking at the costs above, let’s ask you this again: Will your savings still be enough for your future medical use? 

Don’t let medical bills wipe out your savings. Consider getting a medical card. For just a small amount of money every month, you can save your savings and have your medical needs taken care of. 

2. To supplement your employment medical insurance

A medical card supplements your employment medical insurance

You may be gainfully employed and entitled to employment medical insurance. Consider yourself lucky as not all employees can enjoy the benefit you have. But how much does your employment medical insurance cover? Looking at the treatment charges by private hospitals above, will the coverage be sufficient should you be diagnosed with any of the medical conditions?

Your employment medical insurance may not be sufficient

Usually, the annual limit of employment medical insurance is lower than that of a personal medical card. For instance, it is common for one to have RM1 million in annual limit with a personal medical card. In contrast, employment medical insurance can perhaps have at most RM300,000 in annual limit. You may not require up to RM1 million a year for your hospitalizations and treatments, but if you require more than what your employment medical insurance can cover, will you have enough to pay for the remaining costs?

You can have both employment medical insurance and a personal medical card

If you worry that your personal medical card will override your employment medical insurance, you can put your worry to rest. Neither insurance plan will override the other. In fact, they can work in tandem.

Illustration: Person A underwent knee replacement surgery. For her hospitalization, surgery and medication, she was charged RM50,000. As the annual limit of her employment medical insurance was RM40,000, she utilized her employment medical insurance first before covering the remaining RM10,000 with her personal medical card.

The illustration above shows that your personal medical card can step in to help you settle the costs when your employment medical insurance is fully utilized. Without a medical card, you will likely have to pay for your remaining medical bills out of your own pocket. You don’t want that to happen, especially if it eats up your precious savings.

Read this article to know more about why you still need a personal medical card even when you’re insured by your employer.


We have laid out the importance of having a medical card. In sum, a medical card will help you protect your health and wealth. When you can get immediate medical attention without needing to fork out money, you have a better chance of recovering early without having to hurt your wallet.

Our insurance experts at Bjak are more than happy to assist you if you need more information about life and medical insurance. Visit Bjak to get started.

(Sources: Malay Mail, Statista, The Edge Markets, The Rakyat Post)