The high cost of private health care in South Africa usually means that if you do not have a medical aid, you will have to settle for the public health facilities. Unfortunately medical aids in South Africa are not affordable for a large portion of the population and only 1 in 7 South Africans have medical aid cover. While the promise of a National Health Insurance (NHI) sometime in the future gives hope to those without medical aid cover, in the interim a comprehensive and affordable medical aid is your only chance of dealing with the high costs of private health care.
A cheap medical aid is not easy to find. Most medical aids in South Africa are priced similarly and essentially, you get what you pay for. If a medical aid provides large benefits, it will be priced higher. However many medical aids are now offering cheaper plans to appeal to those on a tight budget. These low cost medical aid plans are only available to South Africans earning under a certain income threshold.
Cheap Medical Aid Rates
These cheap medical aid plans are not inferior to regularly priced cover. It simply limits the amount of cover and may restrict the providers you can access. In other words you can only consult with approved practitioners and only be hospitalised when certain criteria are met. Members should therefore not be distracted by the price. It is important that a designated network provider is reasonably located. Nevertheless these cheaper plans still provide essential medical cover.
A cheap medical aid may cost approximately R500 to R800 per member (2017 rates). It only allows you to access network clinics and hospitals or preferred providers who participate in their low cost programs. The medical aid is able to offer you these services because the clinic, hospital or medical practitioner has agreed to accept a lower rate for their services.
While this may seem as a major restriction on your health care options, these network clinics, hospitals and doctors are available in most major cities in South Africa. You may have some major restrictions on services that are deemed non-essential and in these cases, you will have to pay cash for those medical services. There may be additional exclusions above and beyond the regular medical aid scheme exclusions for new applicants.
Cheap Medical Aid Benefits
Cheap medical aid plans cut all the frills so don’t expect perks like gym membership, extensive optical benefits or cover for some auxillary health services. You may also find that you will quickly exhaust your benefits if you fall ill repeatedly in a year but this also occurs with a comprehensive medical aid plan.
Some of the cheap medical aids in South Africa include the Bonitas Boncap, Momentum Ingwe and Discovery Key Care plans. These are just a few of the low cost plans available and it is important to speak to individual medical aids about their cheaper options. Do a little research, speak to a broker or phone around for quotes and compare medical aids, both in terms of the price and benefits offered.
Hospital Only Cover
If you employer is willing to subsidise your medical aid premiums, discuss affordable plans with your company’s preferred medical aid provider. Cheap medical aid does not always have to be the low cost plans that some medical schemes offer for low income earners. If you cannot afford a comprehensive medial aid plan and cheaper plans do not suit your needs, then you may opt for a hospital only medical aid plan.
It is a substantial saving on the monthly medical aid premium. However, day-to-day healthcare expenses are not covered. This means that doctor’s consultations, medicines and diagnostics tests are not covered when not in hospital. It can be costly, especially for people who require extensive medical care. Medical aid hospital plans are better suited to younger and healthier people who only require covered in the event of hospitalisation.
Do not live with a false sense of security if you have opted for insurance cover like hospital plans providing cash back in the event of hospitalisation. These insurance plans are NOT medical aids or hospital-only medical aid cover. No hospital or doctor will recognise this type of cover. These plans are simply a means of providing you with an income should you be hospitalised and unable to work.
Cheap Medical or No Medical Aid
Cutting the benefits of your medical aid plan may be the only way to afford private health cover. Medical aid rates and prices in South Africa vary considerably among the different plans offering a range of benefits. There is no single medical scheme in the country that offers a cheap medical aid plan with benefits comparable to more expensive cover.
If you are still uncertain about opting for a cheaper plan which restricts the providers and services you can access, then you have to consider the alternative – if you fall ill or meet with an accident with no medical aid cover, you will have to settle for a public hospital.
- Cheapest and most expensive medical aids. Business Tech