These days it is practically inconceivable to be without medical aid. But with diminishing benefits and rising contributions, medical seems unaffordable at times. If you have decided that you need medical aid cover then shop around carefully. The fact is that most medical aids offer pretty much the same benefits for similarly priced plans. But your needs and budgets should be factored in before you select a medical aid plan that is just right for you. Here are some tips on how to find the best medical aid.
All Medical Aids Are The Same
Contrary to popular belief, there is no single medical aid that can claim to be the best or cheapest. If this was the case, then most medical aid members would flock to one scheme. Rather look at what’s right for you. If your employer is going to provide a medical aid subsidy for joining the company medical aid then go with that option. Some schemes are restricted while others are open to the general public. If you want to do in-depth research into different schemes before selecting a medical aid, then ask about the scheme’s reserves and member base. This may vary from one scheme to another and can be an indication of the stability of the medical aid.
Understand What You Need
Do you need out-of-hospital cover? If not then you should look at a hospital plan medical aid. It is significantly cheaper than a comprehensive medical aid that also has out-of-hospital benefits. Remember that hospital plans include a chronic benefit so you cover is not isolated to just hospital care. However, if you and your dependents will be utilising out-of-hospital services on a regular basis then a hospital plan may not be the best option. Doctor’s fees, acute medicine, blood tests and scans as well as treatment from other healthcare professionals can be pricy and comprehensive cover may be the better option, despite it being more expensive.
Start With What You Know
There are about 100 medical aids in South Africa at the moment. If you are going to choose a medical aid independent of your employer’s recommendations then look first at the more popular schemes. They usually have a larger member base and a good reserve capacity meaning that they are more financially stable. Take a look at the list of medical aids and first call those schemes who you have heard about. Ask friends and family who have been on medical aid for a long time about specific schemes and their advice. Every bit of advice is helpful but do not let others make the decision for you.
Speak To A Medical Aid Broker
A medical aid broker will provide you with a comparison of several medical schemes to choose from. While most medical aids pretty much offer the same benefits for the same price, a medical aid broker has a better understanding of these products to advise you accordingly. Compare what your broker advises with the input of associates who have been on medical aid as well as general public sentiment on the Internet. This may help you get a better understanding of a few schemes that you should short list for consideration.
Do Not Be Distracted
There are a number of websites, telesales call centres as well as TV and print ads that seem to be offering the best products in the market. But are you sure that you signing up for medical aid? These days the terms for different financial products can overlap to such a degree that it can be confusing. Neither a hospital cash plan, nor medical insurance are a medical aid. These are different financial products that are usually cheaper and have other benefits but cannot replace the offering of medical aid. Always be cautious about offers for the best medical aid on the market – it does not exist.
Budget Long Term
You may have a few extra rands to spare this month, but can you manage to pay the contributions for the months and years to come? Budget yourself at the outset. Some medical aids will not allow you to switch to cheaper plans mid-year meaning that you either continue paying the current premium, switch to another scheme altogether or even give up your medical aid cover altogether. Remember that there are implications when you take any of these actions meaning that you could be without cover when you need it the most. Rather start off with an affordable plan and upgrade at a later stage once your finances permit.