According to recent data by Stats SA, 17% or 9.5 million South Africans belonged to a Medical Aid scheme in 2016. That means over 45 million people were without Medical Aid. The report also shows that although there are various public health facilities that service those without Medical Aid, half of South Africa’s health professionals service the 17% of South Africans who have medical cover.
“There are various factors such as unemployment, economic climate and lack of affordability that impact whether someone can afford membership to a medical scheme or not”, says John October, Chief Executive of online insurance and financial comparison website, Hippo.co.za, “But in many cases, people simply have no choice but to belong to a Medical Aid scheme. Many have to take compulsory schemes through their employers or have the need for specific medical care or treatment that they cannot afford as an out-of-pocket expense.”
So what can consumers do to help minimise Medical Aid costs? Hippo.co.za provides some tips:
- If you need Medical Aid or you are up for renewal on your existing scheme, do not simply consider going with the provider you know. Compare costs and benefits for your specific needs from at least three different providers to ensure that you are not paying too much for the same cover.
- Consider your health requirements for the next twelve months to ensure you will be adequately covered by your Medical Aid. For example, if you are planning on starting a family, ensure that your Medical Aid includes adequate cover for gyneacologist consultations, scans and tests at the time of commencement or renewal. If not, you may be charged more to upgrade at a later stage or have to pay for these costs yourself.
- Should you be at a stage where your children are financially independent and need to be removed from your Medical Aid, consider re-evaluating your overall cover as you may no longer need certain benefits.
- If you have a Medical Aid plan that provides a savings account for out-of-hospital medical expenses such as doctors’ visits and medication, it could get depleted quite quickly. Manage your savings by visiting doctors with lower rates and comparing the cost of medication at the practitioner’s pharmacy with that of a local pharmacy outlet to determine the lowest cost.
“As October is the month where you can start reviewing your Medical Aid before renewal, now is a good time to consider your options and shop around for the best possible rates from a range of South African Medical Aid providers,” concludes October.