Q: Can a husband working for a company add his wife onto his medical aid? Does the type of plan matter? One gets a hospital cover only and then there are plans which have a built in savings account which can be used for day-to-day medical expenses. If the concept of insurance and medical aid is the same (i.e. both instances one contributes for a risk that MIGHT happen in the future), what makes the one permissible and the other not?
A: It will be permissible for the husband to put his wife onto his medical aid that the company has taken out for him. In this case the type of plan does not matter at all. It may be a hospital plan with full or partial cover, or cover for day to day medical expenses, or cover for medication only, etc.
The reason for permissibility of the above form of medical aid as opposed to insurance is that one who works for a company is forced to take out a medical aid policy; he does not do so voluntarily. It is company policy. When it is company policy that each employee must have medical aid, the company compulsorily deducts a certain amount from the employee’s salary which is then contributed to the medical aid scheme. According to Shariah, a salary is the nett amount that comes into the hands of the worker at the end of the week or month. What is not received in cash by him is not considered part of his salary, unless he has optionally asked the boss to keep back a certain amount or to invest an amount. On his behalf. According to this Islamic technicality, the sum of money contributed by the company to the medical aid scheme does not form part of the employee’s salary even though the company considers it as part of salary. It therefore follows that the employee is not contributing to the scheme; rather it’s his boss or company who pays the premium. The employee, thus, has nothing to do with the medical aid scheme, so any benefits or payouts that he receives from the scheme is not related to any contribution of his own. He has had no dealings with the medical aid company, so the issues of risk and usury do not arise. However, in insurance it is the client who deals directly with the insurance company and pays premiums voluntarily; hence such a scheme is not allowed in Islam, for the risk and usury factors are quite prominent.