Look beyond the hype when choosing affordable Medical Aid

stethoscope in pocket

Hold on tight because we're about to spill an industry secret: you don't have to bankrupt yourself and join the best-selling Medical Aid provider to get great health cover – you don't want to miss out on finding the best benefits at the lowest price to perfectly suit your needs.

There are 70-odd medical schemes in South Africa, servicing the needs of over 9 million people and when you compare the Medical Aid and Gap Cover combinations available from just the top 10 schemes sold through Hippo, there are 106 options to choose from! With that amount of choice, there's definitely a scheme out there that offers the coverage you need, at a price you can afford. But if you're only focused on keeping up with the Khumalos, you may find yourself missing out on more affordable Medical Aid schemes that are just as good.


While wanting to find the best Medical Aid cover for yourself and your family is nothing to be sneezed at — bless you — what's best for one family might not be ideal for another. We know we go on about this (and spoiler alert: we're not going to stop), it pays to compare. This is especially true when it comes to Medical Aid plans, many of which you might not have heard of unless you've done some in-depth research or, of course, headed to Hippo.co.za.


In fact, research conducted on the top Medical Aid and Gap Cover plans sold through Hippo Advisory Services between 1 January 2022 and 30 April 2023 reveals some pretty interesting results.


Top Medical Aid plans sold on Hippo.co.za

The top Medical Aid plan sold by Hippo Advisory Services is Medihelp MedMove. With a clear young-adult focus, this one is aimed at those entering the working world and offers cover for health essentials such as private hospitalisation and emergency medical services through quality networks. Doctors' consultations and medicine, as well as a broader section of medical services are also part of the package that starts at R1,254 a month.

Medshield Mediphila, suitabley marketed to young families, comes in a close second. This coverage offers protection from unforeseen emergencies and medical costs through unlimited hospital cover for prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs) conditions, and a generous annual family limit for non-PMB in-hospital treatments, as well as an out-of-hospital benefit limit for specific services like dentistry and specialized radiology. Since those who opted for that plan are between the ages of 26 and 35, it's clear why they'd choose that above other offerings. Medshield MediPhila comes in at R1701 per month for a single member.


Then comes Bonitas BonStart, aimed at urban and economically active singles — and no they unfortunately don't offer a dating app. What they do provide though is unlimited hospital cover at applicable hospital networks, as well as unlimited GP consultations and myriad other out-of-hospital benefits. Cover starts at R1,338 a month.


Discovery Essential Smart Plan at R1727 per month, is also a popular seller with young active singles or new families. This plan forms part of the Smart Series and includes affordable in-hospital and chronic illness cover, and day-to-day benefits including unlimited GP consultations and certain medication through specific provider networks.


Want to see the full top 10 list for younger, cost conscious singles or families? You'll find it below. And it's important to note here that when you compare all the Medical Aid and Gap Cover plans available from these top 10 providers, you'll end up with 106 options (yes, really!) to choose from. So compare, compare, compare because there is something out there that ticks all your boxes.

1. Medihelp MedMove
2. Medshield MediPhila
3. Medihelp Prime 1 & 2 Network
4. Medshield MediValue Compact
5. Bonitas Bonfit
6. Discovery Keycare Plus
7. Discovery Essential Smart
8. Discovery Essential Delta Saver
9. Discovery Essential Saver
10. Fedhealth FlexiFed 1

The top selling products are good value for money but it's always important to remember that all plans have some level of co-payments or short-falls in hospital that could leave you exposed. Just like the choice available on medical aid plans, make sure you've got the most appropriate Gap product to supplement your medical aid. The most commonly chosen Gap products through Hippo Advisory Services is...MedExpense Gap, underwritten by Auto and General. MedExpense is a comprehensive Gap product that protects you from medical payment shortfall costs, boosting the cover provided by your Medical Aid scheme and even providing a hospital booster benefit for trauma and premature birth.


TRA Super Cover Plus, is also a hit as a mid-range product that offers up to 700% above Medical Aid scheme tariff; in other words, up to seven times what your Medical Aid will cover within annual limits. Casualty expenses, co-payments and oncology shortfalls are also covered.


For those wanting Gap but looking to pay the lowest price, Auto and General Essential GAP Cover offers basic Gap Cover starting at only R99 a month. While coverage is less than the comprehensive offering, it provides the basics including up to an additional 300% of the medical scheme tariff for shortfalls around authorised in-hospital procedures.


It pays to compare

Clearly you have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a Medical Aid provider and plan. Instead of automatically going with the masses or being sold by a single medical scheme, go where the value is, do the comparisons and you'll get the health cover you need AND more money to spend on the things that make you happy!


And we've saved the best bit for last: you can skip the hours of research and sitting on hold with call centres because Hippo's online Medical Aid comparison tool (we've got one for Gap Cover too!) will do all the hard work for you, finding the best plan to suit your needs and budget; you don't even need to leave the house! Pretty nifty, right?


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice. 

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