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Medical Aid for the Elderly (Parents and Grandparents)

The elderly often need financial and medical support from younger family member as they reach their twilight years. In a country where most senior citizens cannot afford to retire and pensions are barely enough for everyday living expenses, medical aid is often forgone in order to continue affording to live. It is also the years where medical expenses increase as age-related conditions and chronic diseases set in.

Younger, financially secure members of the family like adult children and grandchildren may need to step in to help. Adding a parent or grandparent on your medical aid may be the lifeline they need to maintain their dignity in the senior years.

Do Medical Aids Allow Elderly Dependents?

Medical aids do allow for parents and grandparents or any older dependent to be a member on your medical aid. There are certain terms and conditions that one has to be aware of but overall it is a simple process.

  • Any new member, irrespective of their age, will not be covered for pre-existing conditions for a period of one year after joining the medical aid. This, however, falls away if the new member was previously on another medical and simply changed over to a new scheme.
  • A medical aid has a 3 month waiting period before it starts paying for any medical expenses for a new member. However, if a person was a member of another scheme and just changed over to another medical, this waiting month period may not apply.
  • Older members, especially those with chronic conditions, are more likely to utilise medical aid benefits. This could mean that the older member will use up more of the day-to-day pool thereby compromising the accessibility to medical services for other members.

Applying for medical aid cover for parents and grandparents

An older member will pay the same rate as other adult members. In most instances this is slightly less than the rate for the main member. However, if any older member is joining a medical aid for the first time without prior medical aid cover, a late joiner fee may be added to the contribution. This fee is only applicable to a person over the age of 35 years who does not have existing medical aid cover. It is calculated by the number of years after the age of 35 for which a person was not covered.

This fee is applicable even if your parent or grandparent had cover much earlier in life but are no longer a medical aid member. Therefore it is a better option to take a parent or grandparent onto your medical aid while they still have cover with another scheme and before they end their existing membership.

At times it may be a better option to sign a parent or grandparent up on for separate cover. Medical aid hospital plans are often the more affordable option and usually includes a chronic benefit for medicines. It, however, does not cover the day-to-day medical expenses and a person has to pay cash for incurring these costs.

Most medical aids, especially closed company medical aid schemes, will cover a retired person and the spouse during retirement. This depends on the retirement package and co-payment by the company is not compulsory. However once the retired employee passes away, his or her spouse may no longer enjoy the benefits of a medical aid subsidised by the employer. It is usually at this stage that the elderly need medical aid cover and adult children or grandchildren may need to step in to help.

Before making the decision to include a parent or grandparent on your medical aid or placing them on a separate plan, it is best to discuss the options with a licensed medical aid broker or the medical aid call centre. While one may want to offer elderly family members essential cover like medical aid, it is important to consider the needs of the other members and the long term impact of the new addition to your medical aid.