Choosing a medical aid can be quite time consuming, because they all have different plans to offer, and different fees as well. With benefits that can vary so greatly between medical aid service providers, it is always a good idea to do your homework and properly compare them before you make your decision.
Having medical insurance and belonging to a medical aid often sounds like exactly the same thing; but there are actually a few differences between them. There are difference sets of legislation that governs them and they have different characteristics as well.
There are close to 100 registered medical aid schemes in South Africa with an annual contribution of more than R84 billion; and this is an industry that needs to follow certain guidelines and rules at all times to ensure proper and fair medical care to members of all medical aid schemes. All medical aid schemes need to be registered with the Council for Medical Schemes, which is a statutory body established by the Medical Schemes Act 131 of 1998 and regulates private health financing through medical schemes.
Belonging to a medical aid scheme is very important and it is a priority for many families in South Africa. Medical cover will come in very handy when you need sudden medical attention, a scheduled doctor’s visit, or when your children fall ill. However, there are so many medical aid companies available to choose from, and a wealth of plans that are suited for anyone’s needs; making it difficult to decide on the perfect medical aid plan for you and your family.
Medical aid schemes are an essential part of our every day lives, much like insurance medical aid schemes make the difference between a living a comfortable and secure life and one that is fraught with worry and insecurity as far being sure that all of your living costs, insurance costs and medical costs are properly covered. We have all heard the horror stories of people that have been unable to cover their medical bills adequately and have either had to forego vital medical attention or seek medical attention at an inferior clinic or hospital where their treatment was less than it could have been had they had enough medical aid funds to cover all of the costs involved.
Medical aids are quite varied everywhere in the world; there are many different companies that offer a number of different medical aid schemes and packages that are generally aimed at a very broad demographic of the local population. Medical aids schemes in South Africa are very expensive for a great number of people within our population. This is because the number of medical aid providers was very limited for a number of years, something which is beginning to change now.
With more than 30 medical aid schemes with open membership operating in South Africa, it may seem a difficult exercise to choose the best one amongst them. Add to this the fact that each medical scheme has a number of different “plans” or packages based on what members typically need and what they can afford to pay for medical cover, it may seem an intimidating task indeed. However, there are a number of factors to consider when searching for the best medical aid for you and your dependants.
Medical scheme membership in South Africans is closely correlated with employment, i.e. most South Africans cannot afford medical aid premiums without support from their employers. If you are employed but do not have the benefit of a medical aid, your best chance of becoming a member of a medical scheme is to lobby your employer. Many employers have given up participation in so-called restricted medical schemes in favour of “total cost-to-company” remuneration packages where employees have to provide for their own health cover. Your union might also be able to encourage your employer to consider subsidising a medical aid for the benefit of all employees.
The Medical Schemes Act, 1998, which came into effect in 2000, stipulates that no person who applies to become a member of an open medical aid scheme, or their dependants, may be excluded on the basis of grounds such as age, gender, marital status, race, health status or medical history.
Medical aid schemes are a vital part of our modern lifestyles and as such it is really important that everyone investigate what kind of medical aid packages are on offer and by what medical aid providers. If you have never even heard of a medical aid scheme or a medical aid package and are wondering what it is and if it is any good, getting yourself on a medical aid and how to go about everything then keep reading this article and you will know everything that you need to know about medical aid packages and medical aid schemes in South Africa, how to get affordable medical aids and what to look for when comparing different medical aid packages and schemes.