Independent financial planner, CFLieu explains the major differences of buying medical insurance coverage as a standalone versus rider attached to a whole life policy.

Getting medical coverage for life is not Rocket Science. As of today, a medical card will at least cover you until you’re 80 years old, and most will be until 100 years old. A hundred years may be a bit of overkill, but if you get a card that would cover until 80 years old, you should be fine.

How Long will You be Covered?

Now, if you have not reviewed your medical card or policy for the past five years, it is likely that your medical card coverage is only until about 70 years old. This is for cards that are more than three, four, or five years old. This means that you won’t have coverage when you reach beyond 70 years old. So, do check if your medical card is a bit old.

What is Standalone?

A medical card be structured or sold as a standalone medical card or as a rider. When we say, “Standalone,” this is what we also call a “Term Medical.” If you are employed by a company, for example, and with the company you have a medical coverage, that is called a “Group Term,” but it’s the same concept as a standalone. A standalone is like term insurance. You don’t pay, you don’t get coverage – as simple as that. It’s cheap for a reason.

What is Rider?

The second is a card that is sold as a Rider. When we talk about “Rider,” we mean investment policies. This is, basically, an investment policy with the addition of a medical card.

Now, why do I want to use this malay proverb (as in the video) to present it? It’s because this is about the cost we pay for a medical card. A medical card is always on an increasing basis, it never gets cheaper only more expensive.

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

With an investment policy, you pay more. It costs you a minimum of about RM 1,200 annual premium.

Let’s say we have a medical card that can be structured in both ways. To illustrate, if you are 30 years old, the cost of that medical card for 30 years old is RM 500 a year. That is the cost of the insurance company to sell you this card and to insure you.

If you buy this card as a standalone, it means that you are only paying RM 500 a year. But, as your age increase, this cost will also increase. Maybe next year it’s RM 600, or when you are 40 years old, maybe it’s RM 1,000 a year. So, you pay for what you are getting.

A lot of people find this hard to accept. Maybe when they bought their cards, their advisor or agent told them, “This is cheap, right?” After that, we think the five years, normally, the cost of this medical card increase every five years, there is one rate, the next five years, there is a different rate to pay. Then, you say, “Hey, how come it keeps on increasing?” That is how a standalone medical card is structured, and you must be prepared for that.

There is normally a scale that shows the rate for ages 41 to 45, the rate for 50, etc. So, you should be aware of this. One caveat, though, is that insurance companies have a clause that they can revise these rates any time. So, you cannot complain as it is already in the contract.

So, a standalone works like this: You pay for what is the actual cost to insure you at your age. Like I said, it’s Bersenang-senang dahulu, bersakit-sakit kemudian because when you buy this while you’re young, you pay less. As you get older, you must pay the rate that reflects your age even though you are healthy. That is just how a standalone is structured.

Now, how about if we have a medical card that’s a rider in an investment policy? Because of the nature of the investment policy, let’s say you have a minimum annual premium of RM 1,500, if you add in a medical card you might have to pay RM 2,000 for the same coverage.

Still, we’re talking about the same product. The cost of this medical card is still RM 500. Where did the RM 1,500 go? For simplicity’s sake, the rest of the money that is not used to cover the RM 500 of medical cost would be channeled towards a unit trust fund that is managed by the insurance company. This is why you can’t go lower. It’s the way investment policies are designed.

That’s why you pay more per year, like RM 2,000 example, for a medical card as a rider, but the difference is it will not increase. Internally, the RM 500 cost of the medical card will increase, but you don’t feel the increase because you have already paid RM 2,000.

So, let’s say at 50 years old, the cost of your medical card is already at RM 2,500. Instead of having to pay RM 2,500 a year, you are still paying RM 2,000 because the extra RM 500 cost of the medical card has already been covered by the extra premium you paid in the previous years.

How will you decide, it is your call. Before you make any hasty decision, maybe it is wise to compare the medical cards and benefits here.

Now, a lot of people will say standalone is cheap. So, “I pay for the cheap one then I still have insurance, right? “I don’t care.” But, bear in mind that there are pros and cons with both a standalone medical card and one that is a rider.

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    32 replies to "What You Should Know When Buying Standalone Medical Card Vs. a Rider and Make the Right Decision"

    • May

      Dear KC,

      I am with Pacific Insurance stand alone plan (Pac Medi-Pac Hospitalization & Surgical) with a lifetime limit of 300K. My nett current premium is RM2,050 an due to increase when i hit 56. I am looking at the idea of switching insurance plan.

      I am 53 years old, non smoker, non drinker and is working a desk job. single and no children. Rarely I am asked to travel to do negotiation work.

      Lately i have been looking at Great Eastern because a girlfriend who was diagnosed with the big C was sharing about her insurance plan.

      I need your advice on a sound medical policy. My main concern is the medical portion, critical illness or total disabled.

      What is your advice?
      I also have a stand alone PA insurance.

      Many thanks.


      • KCLau

        Hi May,

        According to my experience and information, commonly the best medical cards coverage is offered by life insurance company especially of the big brands. And they also normally ask customer to get it in a package with investment-linked policy.

        To cater to your needs of having:
        – a guaranteed renewable medical card up to age 80
        – covered with critical illnesses
        – total permanent disablement

        I think that investment-linked plan works well for you. You can ask agents from a few companies to send you quotation. Ask for:
        – maximum coverage with your allocated budget (say RM500/month)

        Don’t worry about the cash value as you just want the protection. As long as the conservative projection can meet the insurance charges required up to age 80, it is good enough. If you need me to introduce an associate to you, please email me with your mobile number and location.

    • Darsh @ MCIS

      Hi May,

      I understand that you would like to check more on Medical Card.
      Just to share, here we have Max Health + Investment – MCIS with
      -no lifetime limit
      -high annual limit
      -outpatient dengue treatment
      -coverage up to 100 years
      -no claim reward
      -room and board benefits
      -daily cash allowance
      -home nursing care rewards

      If your interested kindly do pm me at 0166292168 whatsapp/message
      and I’ll call you back asap.

    • Ong

      Hi KC Lau,

      Thanks for your sharing.

      The message that I get from your sharing is:
      1. if want to buy insurance at cheaper (RM500 in the example) and dont mind to pay high when getting older, can go for stand alone product;
      2. if you have budget to pay higher (RM2000 in the example), then you can choose rider that attached to an ILP product, so that wont feel the pain of higher premium when getting older.
      Am I right?

      In option 1, if I put aside the RM1500 that I “saved” from not purchasing ILP in mutual fund. And keep the discipline doing so every year.Do you think this is a better choice? (assuming the mutual fund perform equally well as the fund in the ILP)

      • KCLau

        Hi Ong,

        Your method works too. But there are some disadvantages involved:
        – the insurance charges paid for standalone card is higher than the similar compatible rider. Usually about 5% higher. That’s purposely designed by insurance company to entice people to take up ILP as a bundle. You can check with several insurance company see if this is applicable to all of their products.

        – when you forget (fail to pay renewal premium), the standalone card will lapse within 30 days. Then the trouble begins. You need to reinstate the card. Sometimes insurance company might want to underwrite your health situation and might impose extra requirement. They have the right if you lapse your policy. If the card is in ILP, it is very hard to lapse because as long as there is fund in your ILP, the coverage still goes on although you might have stopped premium for many months, and even years.

    • Sunny Prudential

      Hi Mr. Ong,

      I would like to offer you my service.

      If you may interested to know further kindly contact me at 0183109895.

      Cheers and Regards
      Sunny Shahros

    • Isaac

      Hi KC Lau,

      My company is providing me employee medical plan and I have taken up a deductible plan to cover beyond the former plan.

      now I am considering a personal medical plan as backup/replacement for employee plan,
      is there any standalone/rider plan that could provide small/basic coverage just enough to be complimented by the deductible plan?


      • KCLau

        Hi Isaac, there are many choices out there. You can consider to take it from the same company that provide you the deductible plan, and better have both riders attached to an Investment-linked policy.

    • Rusdi

      Hi KC,

      I already sign up with lonpac medisaver plan, upon reading this I just realise my plan is a standalone plan. Does this mean the premium is increasing yearly. What will happened if on 12th month I made a claim let say half of yearly limit, is it going to be a huddle to renew the policy after that?

      • KCLau

        Hi Rusdi, you better check with your insurance provider to understand the situation.

    • Rusdi

      Dear KC,

      It’s usually diffrence rider type with standalone is investment fund. If rider type for the Muslim it’s advisable to take the shariah compliance or takaful. For the standalone type is it the same or I can take any provider without considering the shariah compliance or takaful since it not have any investment and saving on it

      • KCLau

        Hi Rusdi, for muslim, you have similar choices from takaful insurers.

    • Terence

      Hey KCLau,

      would like to ask for advice, and what do you think of this?

      1) i dont need life insurance because i don’t have dependants (assuming my parents can survive themselves), i dont have wife and kids, i dont have any outstanding loan like housing loan (if i do intend to take up, i can go for MRTA or MLTA next time) that can burden anyone else or whatever when i die.

      2) i don’t need 36 CI or early ci IF i’m able to generate my own income replacement. the whole purpose of 36ci is so that when you go out of job, you can get a lum sump to tahan maybe your 3-4 years of living expenses while you’re undergoing treatment. so this 3-4 years of living expenses you can save it up yourself (honestly) or, generate the income replacement elsewhere.

      3) I don’t need PA.. not a construction worker here or susceptible to high risk environment

      4) i’ll only need medical card

      Conclusion : buy standalone medical card.

      So anything i should look out for when buying just medical card?

      BTW my philosophy for choosing one is simple (which may not be applicable to everyone),
      1) I would just want to pay for what i need, and i believe all i need is medical coverage in case i kena something *touchwood*
      2) Not interested at all in the investment part as I am capable of doing it myself
      3) You mentioned most standalone cards are 5% more expensive. I wonder if I can get more insights from you?

      BTW, I have met with AIA, Allianz, Prudential, GE and HLA agents and gotten quotations. So far, my remarks would be as simple as this (with the sample size of 5 people. not huge), most agents aren’t sure themselves what they are selling and how all this ILP or standalone works. and some are not exactly very transparent and honest. So i’m still doing my due diligence here. also, do agents actually earn more through ILP? can seem to comprehend why are they always promoting ILP instead of standalone medical cards. and i realize certain terminology widely used is not exactly consistent with all the companies.

      • Aidilla

        I’m looking forward to a respond to your queries here. My thought is exactly the same as yours. Terence, did you manage to dig more into this, if you did, could you kindly share any info with me.. I’m also keen to know more regarding the note that most standalone cards are 5% more expensive than ILP.

      • Jessyn

        Hi Terence,

        ILP plan is the package plan that we are investing to have a flexible return to sustain ur account. This plan design, life coverage is a must, althought u dun need to left something for ur family, but u still need some for ur funeral expenses.

        As others rider, is opt for u to choose u want it or do not want. It doesnt mean u have to apply all the riders in one shot.

        ILP is a very flexible plan and comfortable plan that can helps to fulfill clients needs anytime. If u found u dun need those riders, dun buy, when any time
        U wish to apply, just add on, but u have to ensure ur health is good and the price is accceptable when u grow old age.

        Btw, it is somehow very difficult to write and explain here, if u do need some advise and clear picture. u may contact me if u want to know more detail explanation.

        Sorry if i cant explain very clearly here… have a great day ahead… ?

      • Tony

        Hi, I think the same as you. May I know end up what are you getting?

    • Rajesh Bhuyan

      I would like to know if any health insurance policy for expats in Malaysia covers Ourpatient consultation.

      • Jessyn

        From which country? There is a possibility but is depends on term and condition

    • Peter Siaw

      Hey KCLau
      As l go through your web site with regards to the medical insurance, can you recommend which insurance would be best to suit me. Currently single and like to take a rider type to ensure no future cost increase.
      Peter siaw

      • KCLau

        Hi Peter, all the major companies plan are very competitive now, including Great Eastern, AIA, Prudential, Allianze, etc.
        If you want to talk to a licensed independent financial adviser who can deal with several companies and compare the benefits that suits you, please email me with your contact number and location.

    • Cwtan

      Hi kclau, may i know weather de lonpac smart med 2.0 standalone medical card term n condition, coverage stil de same as yr recomendation?

    • Dato Dr Zainul Azizan

      I am looking for a standalone medical card or with rider. Do provide alternative pricing for different limit and companies so I can decide. My daughter is 37 and my son 18.

      thank you


      • KCLau

        Hi Dato Dr. Zainul, do I have your permission to refer your case to my trusted strategic partners who can provide the info you need? They will email you directly.

    • Jinglealltheway

      Im 26, female who currently single and work as an educator. Would like to know more abt ILP and standalone medi cards. If 30 years time from now, how much approximate will be the annual payable to the insurance company(standalone). Im very confusing abt to get a good medical card. Can email me with some medical cards’s comparison guide?

      • KCLau

        Since it requires a lot of explanation due to the vast choices and structures of getting a medical card, I would suggest a face-to-face meeting with agents/financial advisor. If you need my help to refer someone who can assist you, please email me with your contact number and location.

    • Said Mumtaz Ali Shah

      Hi I’m said Mumtaz Ali Shah 44 yrs old and my wife 27 yrs my wife is malaysian and I’m not malaysian we need you kind advice about insurance we don’t have any b4 I hear from my friend that there is insurance policy which is insistence plus investment so kindly explain to us and advice us which will be the best insurance for both of us . We wife got medical card from her collage but when we went to putra Hospitle they said this card only can be used when she admitted in Hospitle otherwise can’t use so I don’t know we need something that cover everything when ever we go for treatment no matter we hospitalised I mean admitted in Hospitle or no but I wan our medical insurance to cover us and if also got some investment plane too then please advice us thanks in advance

    • Isaac

      Hi KCLau,

      I would like to talk to an independent financial adviser who could help me decide between the major insurance providers (AIA, Allianz, Prudential, Eastern, etc) in choosing for a comprehensive insurance plan. Could you please connect me with a reliable contact? Would highly appreciate it. Thank you.

      • KCLau

        Hi Isaac,

        Please send me an email request with your phone number so I can forward your info to my recommended adviser.

    • Moses

      Hi KC Lau,

      I am 24, would like to buy an insurance for myself. So far, I am only able to understand partially of the product pros and cons offered by the insurance companies and it’s very confusing.

      • KCLau

        There are a wide range of products choices. Start with an ILP (Investment-linked policy) for maximum protection and minimum premium.

    • Ms CAC

      Hi Mr.KCLAU,

      I would like to ask few questions as I was recently surrender of my previous medi card and join another. Some would said I am stupid for wasting what I paid for 5 years. Now I am confused on my decision.
      Previous my agent will tell me , the offered health insurance(medicard) will covered till 70 years old, and I only need to pay for this 20 years. After 20 years I will no need to pay any cent but this insurance will covered till 70 years old. But now this new agent telling me all were tactics from agent, actually I need to pay till I die. May I know which is correct?

      • KCLau

        The insurance charges for medical card is payable as long as you want to remain the coverage. Your previous said that you might not need to pay after 20 years if because when the medical card is attached as a rider in an investment-linked policy, the cash value is projected to be able to cover the future insurance charges. But nothing is guaranteed because we don’t know the future investment value which fluctuate according to market sentiment too.

        Generally, it is good to upgrade your medical card to the latest offer because of the more competitive products, which cover up to age 80 or above, and with much higher limits.

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