Five Best Critical Insurance Plans for Lung Cancer Treatment in Malaysia

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Malaysia. Getting a critical insurance plan for your loved one with cancer can help you cover treatments and surgeries. Find the best critical care plans in Malaysia including medical cards that can cover hospitalisation bills.

by Calvyn Ee

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is when cells within the lungs start to multiply uncontrollably. These cells are known as cancerous cells and can eventually spread to other parts of the body.

Lung cancer can start in any part of the respiratory system; this includes the trachea (windpipe), the airways to the lungs, and lung tissue. Lung cancer accounts for 10 per cent of all cancers that occur in Malaysia; 90 per cent of lung cancer patients are diagnosed with stage 3 and 4 lung cancer.

Your lungs are an important component of your respiratory system. It’s made up of two spongy organs in your chest; the left lung is smaller than the right lung, as the heart takes up a large portion of space on the left side. The lungs function to take in oxygen when you inhale and expel carbon dioxide when you exhale.

Those who smoke are at greater risk of developing lung cancer, but secondary smoke can also increase that risk as well in non-smokers. Early-stage symptoms may seem benign at first, such as coughing and shortness of breath. More severe symptoms can slowly manifest over time, such as unexplained weight loss, coughing blood, or very persistent coughing.

If something does seem wrong, you should always get it checked immediately. Early screening is important for detecting cancer early and treating it before it becomes worse. The earlier you get it treated, the higher your chances of removing the cancer entirely.

How is it Diagnosed?

The first step is always a full physical examination, as well as recording your current health status. The doctor will ask a variety of questions regarding your overall state of health, which helps them to narrow down your condition. Further tests may be required to get a more accurate picture of your condition and determine if you really do have lung cancer.

A chest X-ray may be ordered to look for any possible signs of lung cancer. Alternatively, a low-dose CT scan may be ordered instead to create a more detailed image of your lungs, pointing out lesions or other signs that an X-ray might not have been able to detect. If you are coughing frequently, doctors may conduct a sputum (mucus from the lungs) cytology, where they examine the phlegm that you cough up. It might be able to detect cancers in the major airways of the lungs.

Otherwise, the doctors may perform a pleural effusion, collecting any fluid accumulated around the lungs to look for signs of cancer that may have spread to the lungs’ linings. It might also indicate some other condition other than cancer.

Why Choose a Critical Insurance Plan?

A critical insurance (CI) plan, sometimes referred to as critical or catastrophic illness insurance provides coverage for specific and severe health conditions, such as cancer, heart disease or stroke. While most medical insurance plans cover a significant portion of your hospitalisation fees, including for treatments and medication, a single CI has the potential of upending one’s financial position due to the high cost of treatment.

CI coverage does not provide financial coverage in the same way medical insurance does, but instead provides a lump sum payout of a stipulated amount based on the policy’s terms and conditions, such as what critical illnesses are covered. Much like medical insurance, the policy’s total payout and premium rates (monthly payments for the policy) vary depending on a variety of factors, such as the policyholder’s age, gender, health condition and so on.

Because CI insurance is a lump sum payout to policyholders, you can use these funds for a variety of reasons and not just for paying hospitalisation-related fees. You can use the money for paying the utilities, getting groceries, transportation, and even personal uses.

CI insurance generally covers a limited amount of CIs and this varies among insurance providers. Even so, for illnesses covered by the plan, there may be further stipulations that limit who can receive the payout. For example, some policies may cover specific types of cancer, but may not cover early-stage cancers or carcinoma in situ cases. Moreover, if you or your loved one are diagnosed with a CI not covered by your policy, there’s little you can do about it.

It becomes important to know the restrictions behind any plans you might be considering. Carefully read through the list of what is covered and what isn’t, and ask the insurance agent for further details about the policy. Recurring illnesses, for example, may not be covered; most plans also expire once you have claimed the full lump sum payment benefit that is insured. You also need to bear in mind the policy’s duration, who is eligible, and various other factors.

FWD Care Direct

Eligibility: Persons aged 1 month (up to 2 children aged 1 month to 20 years) to 60 years

Coverage period: For children, up to age 25 (age next birthday); for adults, up to age 75, with a minimum term of 5 years

Maximum coverage: Up to RM250,000 per life

FWD’s Care Direct plan is a takaful plan tailored to providing a CI insurance lump sum payment if you or your insured loved ones are diagnosed with cancer. You can enjoy protection for a period of up to 30 years (in multiples of 5) and provide coverage to your family. Cancer coverage includes all known cancers, as well as carcinoma in situ; the only cancers not covered are “non-melanoma skin cancers,” “chronic lymphocytic leukaemia” of a certain kind, or Grade I/II “cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN).”

The plan’s four choices basically cover the following:

  • Individual plan: a sole adult
  • Married couple plan: two married adults, basically a married couple
  • Family plan: both parents and up to 2 children
  • Single-parent family plan: a single parent and up to 2 children

This is a relatively straightforward CI plan as it provides a lump sum payment when you (or any other loved ones insured by the plan) are diagnosed with cancer, as well as waives all “future due contributions” (premiums). You’ll be paid 100 per cent of the sum insured regardless of what stage you’re diagnosed with.

This plan is ideal if you are a parent and want to provide a safety net for your children in the event that you or your partner are diagnosed with cancer. In the sudden event of you and your partner passing away while the policy is still in force, but your children are still alive, the policy becomes what they call an “orphaned certificate.” In this case, the policy continues to provide coverage to your surviving children until the policy ends when they turn 25 years old.

PRUAll Care

Eligibility: Persons aged 14 days to 70 years

Coverage period: Up to age 60, 70 or 80 (age next birthday), subject to a minimum of 10 years

Maximum coverage: RM2.5 million

Prudential’s PRUAllCare provides coverage for up to 183 critical illnesses, including lung cancer. The policy’s main purpose is to provide comprehensive CI coverage for early to late-stage CI, post-surgery recovery, as well as intensive care support benefits. In the event something were to happen to you, the policy provides financial support to your loved ones via a lump sum payment based on a certain percentage of your policy. It gives a strong layer of financial security to allow you to receive the treatment you need to cure your condition.

If you are diagnosed with any of the CIs covered by the policy, you’ll receive a lump sum payment for each CI diagnosed. A maximum of four claims can be made, subject to RM350,000 per life limit; you’ll be able to make multiple claims up to 400 per cent of the basic sum assured (BSA) for different stages of the covered CIs.

If you need to undergo surgery to treat lung cancer, and subsequent hospitalisation for a 3-day period to recover, you are also eligible for a lump sum payout equal to 20 per cent of the BSA (up to 5 times per life). You also receive a lump sum benefit if you need to be warded in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a continuous period of 6 days “for health issues beyond” CIs (payable once per lifetime up to an RM500,000 per life limit).

In the event that the worst occurs, your loved ones will receive a lump sum payment equal to 20 per cent of the BSA or surrender value, whichever is higher. Prudential also provides additional riders to further ease the burden of your loved ones: PRUWaiver Plus, for example, waives all future premiums in the event of “Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) before age 70.”

MSIG Cancer Care 365

Eligibility: Persons aged 18 to 59 years

Coverage period: Up to age 80 (age next birthday), subject to underwriting requirements

Maximum coverage: Up to RM360,000

This CI plan provides significant financial support for cancer-related conditions, including lump sum payments and allowances for daily needs. With three plans to choose from, each plan provides different levels of coverage. The basic P100 plan, for example, provides a Cancer Benefit of RM100,000, where 30 per cent of the sum insured is payable upon diagnosis of early-stage cancer covered by the policy. Once the Cancer Benefit is fully utilised, the policy becomes non-renewable.

The policy also provides a lump sum payment of “recuperative allowance” (up to RM5,000) per hospitalisation due to cancer for a period of 5 consecutive days. You also have an additional allowance for supplementary or complementary medicines, as well as an Internet allowance to stay in touch with your loved ones and close friends while hospitalised. Lastly, optional coverage includes a daily cash allowance for when you are warded in either a standard ward, the ICU, or an admission for cancer, for up to a stipulated amount of time.

The plan also includes a Parent Shield cover, whereby a lump sum payment equal to 10 per cent of the sum insured of the Cancer Benefit is paid to each surviving parent (up to 2 surviving parents) in the event of death due to cancer covered by the policy.

The plan provides a significant degree of financial support for when you have cancer, but the one caveat is that there is a waiting period. For example, early-stage cancer has a 60-day waiting period before coverage commences. On top of that, the lump sum payment for the Cancer Benefit only takes effect “if you are diagnosed with critical stage cancer and survive for at least 14 days after diagnosis.”

AIA A-Life Cancer360

Eligibility: Persons aged 14 days to 60 years

Coverage period: Up to age 80 (age next birthday), subject to underwriting requirements

Maximum coverage: Up to RM300,000

AIA’s CI plan provides a comprehensive cancer protection plan that gives policyholders long-term financial support even after the policy has expired after fully utilising its maximum coverage. Coverage goes up to RM300,000 and provides substantial benefits to those who are diagnosed with cancer.

For early-stage cancers, you are eligible to receive a lump sum payment equal to 30 per cent of the coverage amount. You will also receive 2 separate payouts equal to 10 per cent of the coverage amount as a “recovery reward.” These rewards are paid to you after the 6th and 12th month from the date of diagnosis. Do not be confused if the product brochure states that it is a 20 per cent coverage amount since it accounts for both these payouts.

By far the biggest benefit comes from the Power Reset feature. If you made a claim for early-stage cancers, this feature resets your coverage “to the full amount one year after your diagnosis.” This ensures that you can continue to enjoy the plan’s coverage for its remaining duration or until you fully utilise the coverage amount. As such, you can also ensure that you receive significant coverage if you are diagnosed with an advanced stage of cancer.

Coverage you receive for the advanced stage is 100 per cent the amount insured, while you also receive additional financial aid: an “extended recovery income” that is equal to 10 per cent of the coverage amount for the next 5 years (considered as 50 per cent coverage amount, similar to the recovery reward for early stage cancer). In the event of unexpected circumstances, the policy pays out 10 per cent of the “coverage amount or cash value, whichever is higher.”

Lastly, once the plan reaches its maturity date, you will receive the full coverage amount as a special entitlement, even if you have previously made a claim for early-stage cancer. This comes on top of “continuous coverage with no waiting period between claims,” as well as additional benefits such as a yearly cash bonus if you register for AIA’s Vitality program.

Great Critical Care Relief

Eligibility: Persons aged 14 days to 60 years

Coverage period: Up to age 80

Maximum coverage: Up to RM400,000 per life

Great Eastern’s CI plan provides coverage for the 5 most prevalent CIs in the country, one of which is cancer. In fact, the policy covers all types of cancer regardless of stage. If you are diagnosed with any of the 5 covered CIs, you will receive a lump sum payment that is “higher of basic sum assured or total premiums paid without interest,” with the minimum coverage amount being RM50,000 per life.

If that quoted sentence sounds confusing, don’t worry, we were a little confused at first, too. What this means is that the lump sum payment you are entitled to be based on either the maximum amount you are covered for under your policy or the total amount in premiums you have paid to the insurance provider, whichever is higher.

An additional benefit comes from a hospital admission event benefit. If you need to be hospitalised due to any of the 5 covered CIs, you are entitled to receive coverage for “prolonged hospital admission with major surgery” for a duration of at least 21 days. The coverage also extends to ICU admission for at least 7 days. If something were to happen to you due to unforeseen complications, your loved ones will receive a lump sum payment that is “higher than the basic sum assured or the total premiums paid without interest.” This helps provide an additional safety net for your family in such an unprecedented event.

If everything goes well, upon reaching the age of 80, you are entitled to receive a maturity benefit, as the plan is now considered “mature.” In this case, you will receive a lump sum payment based on the basic sum assured or the total premiums you have paid thus far, whichever is higher. You thus receive a significant sum of funds which you can use for your recovery or for various other needs.

Critical Insurance Plans vs. Medical Cards

A medical card is very different from critical illness coverage. A medical card is generally associated with a medical insurance policy which helps cover the costs of treatment and medications while a person is admitted to a hospital. Critical illness plans only provide a lump sum payment on the diagnosis of a specified critical illness as outlined in the policy.

Some medical insurance policies provide policyholders with a medical card. The card serves as an avenue to make cashless payments with your insurance. As the card is tied to a particular medical insurance plan, it also covers a significant portion of your or your loved one’s hospital expenses such as accommodation, treatment and prescriptions. However, other aspects such as post-treatment care might not be included in the plan’s coverage. You will have to withdraw funds from your own savings to pay for anything that’s not covered by your policy.

As for critical insurance plans, you or your loved one will receive a lump sum cash payout if you or your loved one is diagnosed with any of the critical illnesses covered by the policy. The payout can be used for the necessary medical expenses, or even for other important matters such as utility bills and groceries. However, anything other than the critical illnesses insured by the policy is not covered, which includes any hospital expenses while you or your loved one are admitted.

Some critical illness policies will enable you to make multiple claims on the same critical illness if it relapses, while others only allow you to make claims for different critical illnesses. You will need to review the policy’s terms to know what would be best for you. Ideally, you and your loved ones should have both types of coverage to provide comprehensive healthcare coverage for everyone’s peace of mind.

References

About the Writer
Calvyn Ee
Calvyn is an aspiring author, poet and storyteller. He spends his time reading, gaming and building stories with his action figure photography.
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