What is medical aid?
Medical aid is a form of insurance where you pay a monthly amount – called a contribution or premium – in return for financial cover for medical treatment you may need, as well as any related medical expenses. This means that if you fall ill suddenly, are involved in an accident or need emergency treatment, your health needs will be taken care of.
In South Africa, medical aids are governed by the Medical Schemes Act, which regulates the industry in a fair and transparent way. There are 26 different open medical schemes in South Africa and the cover you get will depend on the provider you choose and the type of medical aid plan you’re on.
Your cover will always include a minimum set of benefits (such as in-hospital treatment and treatment of chronic conditions) but if you’re on a more comprehensive medical aid plan, you can also be covered you for medical expenses such as GP visits, dental treatment and prescribed medication.
So how do you pick the right medical aid plan for your needs? Here are a few things to take note of:
- Think about your needs and budget
Are you young, single and healthy? Are you married with small children? Your life stage and needs will influence which medical aid plan you should be on, as well as how much you can actually afford to pay each month.
- Compare all your options
There are so many different medical aids to choose from, so you need to ensure that you’re comparing the same benefits alongside each other, and not simply choosing the cheapest option available to you.
- Note any waiting periods
You should know that some medical aids impose waiting periods when you join – and these can be anywhere from three months general waiting period for all medical expenses to a secondary period where you’re not covered for any pre-existing condition for up to 12 months. So check these before you sign up.