Before signing up for medical aid cover, you should shop around for the best deal for you – basically it is a matter of cover that suits your budget and your healthcare needs. Although most medical aids in South Africa pretty much offer the same products and services for the same price, there may be the advantage of going with one scheme over the other. Getting medical aid quotes is an easy undertaking and you should compare at least 3 quotes before signing up for cover.
Medical Aid Brokers
A medical aid broker is probably in the best person to speak to if you want to compare many different quotes. Brokers tend to deal with several medical aids and can easily provide you with quotes from different schemes within a short period of time. However, there is at times a sense of distrust when dealing with brokers. There are misconceptions that brokers will ‘force’ you to only look at the advantages of the medical aids they favour rather than being objective. Furthermore there is the concern over how broker commissions will add to the final cost of buying a medical aid through them.
It is important to realise that medical aid brokers are regulated by the financial services industry and have to be upfront about all aspects of the products they sell as well as the commissions they earn. Overall the cost of joining a medical aid through a broker does not impact on your monthly contributions. At the very least, you can consult with a broker for a no obligation quote and receive unbiased advice from them rather than speaking to each individual medical aid company. Brokers do not represent all the medical aids in the South African market but will have access to the main schemes that have the best benefits.
Individual Medical Aids
If you want to go it alone then you can contact individual medical aids for quotes. Fortunately most schemes have the medical aid rates and prices displayed on their website so a little time on the Internet will be sufficient to compare quotes. The problem with going it alone and requesting quotes for each individual medical aid is that at the end of the day you may not be comparing similar plans from different schemes. In other words, what may seem cheaper with one scheme may actually be a medical aid plan with lesser benefits than another.
When comparing quotes from individual medical aids, take note of the important benefits – day-to-day cover, dentistry benefit, hospitalisation amounts, cancer treatment and the amount above the NHRPL (National Health Reference Price List – often referred to as the “medical aid rate”) that the specific plan will pay. Do not get distracted with the extras like gym contracts and cheaper movie tickets. A medical aid is there to protect you against the healthcare costs when you fall ill and this should be your focus when looking at different quotes.
To find and compare individual quotes, contact the schemes on the list of medical aids.
How to Find the Best Medical Aid
The best medical aid, like the cheapest medical aid, is highly individualistic and essentially does not exist. The reality is that all medical schemes in the country have plans that are almost the same and at the same price. So how can one truly say that the medical aid cover that they have is better than another or the “best in South Africa”? Some medical aids can be considered better than others purely because the scheme is financially stable, offers other innovative products and has large membership numbers. But this does not change the actual benefits of the medical aid plan.
To find the best medical aid for you and your family, consider these points :
- Will you employer subsidise your monthly contributions if you join a specific scheme?
- Is there a discounted rate for joining a medical aid within your industry?
- Does a restricted medical aid exist that only accepts members with your qualification?
- Do you have a history with a specific medical aid?
- Does the medical aid plan that you opt for cover hospitals or clinics in your area of residence (some plans only pay for access to specific private hospitals and clinics)?
- Does the medical aid have a good track record?
Even in 2012 with many medical aids have discontinued operations, there is still some 100 schemes operating in South Africa. Personal preference will always be a factor that will draw some members to one scheme over another. And competition in any industry is healthy and keeps all the players in check.
Be realistic about your healthcare needs and that of your dependants who will also be covered by the medical aid. Carefully assess your monthly budget and ensure that you can afford the premiums. By taking these simple measures when looking for the best medical aid quotes, you can ensure that you make a wise decision in signing up for cover that suits you best.