Is Medical Insurance Costly for My Elderly Parents?

High 27


Most of our parents took care of us as children. Now as adults, you might wonder what some of the best and most important things are that you can do for them to maintain or improve their quality of life.

Besides general love and care, medical insurance is an important one. As people get older, they are more susceptible to certain illnesses and may be on a prescription of several types of medication. They may also encounter unexpected periods of hospitalization or surgical operations, which are often very costly, making it sensible to be protected by medical insurance to ease potential financial burdens.


What are some common ailments affecting the elderly? What are treatment costs like?                     


Some common conditions are Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, diabetes (adult onset), glaucoma or cataracts, heart disease, hypertension, kidney and bladder problems, osteoporosis.

As of 2017, a total of 3.6 million Malaysians were found to have diabetes, with the total cost of treatment coming up to an average of RM2,750 a year. Diabetes patients are also more vulnerable to other illnesses, such as heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. High blood pressure, another common illness in Malaysia, can cost around RM1612 and RM2718 in treatments per year. Kidney dialysis for one person could cost over RM25,000 per year, while a coronary angioplasty can come up to around RM29,070. Having a medical insurance policy in place would help to support the cost of treatment for such illnesses and other personal accidents.


Are those common ailments all covered under a normal medical insurance policy?

No, there are some illnesses not covered under standard policies by medical insurance. These are categorised as the 36 critical illnesses, as follows:

Alzheimer’s Disease or severe dementia, angioplasty and other coronary artery related procedures, bacterial meningitis, benign brain tumour, blindness, brain surgery, cancer, cardiomyopathy, chronic aplastic anaemia, coma, coronary artery bypass surgery, deafness, encephalitis, end-stage liver failure, end-stage lung disease, full-blown AIDS, fulminant viral hepatitis, heart attack, heart valve surgery, HIV infection due to blood transfusion, kidney failure, loss of independent existence, loss of speech, major head trauma, major organ/bone marrow transplant, medullary cystic disease, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis, paralysis of the limbs, Parkinson’s disease, primary pulmonary arterial hypertension, serious coronary artery disease, stroke, surgery to aorta, systemic lupus erythematosus with severe kidney complications, third degree burns.

Protection for these illnesses is usually available under a separate critical illness plan.


What does a normal medical insurance policy cover then?


It generally covers pre and post hospitalization fees, room and board, surgical fees for personal accidents and accidental death benefit. It may also cover outpatient treatment for cancer and kidney dialysis and physiotherapy and home nursing care.


Does age range affect what is covered under the policy?


It is worth taking note of the different age brackets under various policies. The recent unfortunate case of a family who had to pay for their father’s surgery in Korea that ballooned up to RM800k is a cautionary tale. In that case, there was medical insurance but the policy hadn’t been renewed for continued coverage as the father advanced in years.

This is why you should pay attention to the maximum coverage age of the medical insurance policy you’re looking at - always pick the one with a higher maximum age. This allows your insured parent to have a stable policy while enjoying the benefits that come with it. Also, the higher the annual and lifetime limit, the better, as this can tide you through inflation (rates of which are increasing every year).


What is co-insurance, and is it a good thing? 


Co-insurance is an arrangement that lets you share the cost, where the insurer pays a percentage of the policy fee after you have paid your deductible amount. This provides a form of aid as paying for insurance premiums can be hefty. The rate of co-insurance varies across different companies.

Examples of age limits and associated  medical insurance costs:

Insurance provider and policy name
Coverage up to... Maximum age of entry Co-insurance Premium fee estimate
Prudential PRUsenior med 80 years old 70 years old 10% or the minimum amount of co-insurance you can pay, whichever is higher N/A (to be calculated based on age, gender and selected plan)
Great Eastern MediCare 79 years old Entry 60 Years old None Starting from RM521 per year
AXA SmartCare Optimum 100 years old 65 Years old 20% or the difference between the bill and your entitlement (only applicable to Room & Board category) N/A (to be calculated based on health and occupation)
Zurich SeniorGold 100 years old 80 Years old None RM50 (minimum) to RM500 (maximum) per month
MSIG Senior Citizens Personal Accident Insurance 75 years old 75 years old None Starting from RM79.50 a year
Allianz MediSafe Infinite / MediSafe Infinite 91 years old 70 years old None N/A (to be calculated based on age, gender, lifestyle and selected plan)

While the benefits and their payout sums vary according to each policy, some common inclusions are hospitalization and nursing care, medical expenses, personal accident and injury, accidental death and/or permanent disablement, funeral and/or repatriation expenses. Exact details can be found in the brochures of each medical insurance policy linked above.

Do premiums stay the same up till the maximum coverage age?

Not always. Becaus of  a person’s vulnerability to illnesses and accidents increases as they age, the medical insurance premium will also increase with age to enable sufficient coverage. So, the premium you pay in the first year of registration will not be the same amount you pay in, say, 10 or 20 years down the line.

However, there are policies such as Zurich SeniorGold where premiums do not increase with age once you have selected a plan.

So, is medical insurance for my elderly parents expensive?

No, it is relatively inexpensive considering how much medical treatments can cost today. Remember the general rule: always ensure that you can, in the long run, afford the premium of your selected plan.

We hope this has added to your understanding on medical insurance for your parents, so if they aren’t registered under any plan, go get them signed up and secure today!

While the comparison tool now only covers car insurance and travel insurance, we will be including personal and health insurance soon - so watch this space!