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What to Look for When You Compare Medical Aids


Sadly, anyone who becomes ill in South Africa and requires more than a visit to a GP and some medication faces a dilemma. They could access public healthcare services, join a waiting list and wait months or even years for treatment. Alternatively, they can seek help from the private sector. In the latter case, millions of South Africans must also seek financial support with the high cost of hospitalisation and treatment. For them, the first step must often be to compare medical aids.

Some are fortunate and qualify for membership of a group scheme and assistance with the premiums from their employer. Those who are not covered in this fashion and the self-employed will find it necessary to select a plan that best meets their healthcare requirements and falls within their budget. Hence the need for comparisons.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark reminder that even the healthiest of us can become gravely ill overnight. It has also led to severe financial hardship for millions of South Africans and the need to economise. However, when you compare medical aids, it is vital not to base your decision on price alone. You would be unlikely to buy a cheap used car without kicking the tyres and checking under the bonnet. Why risk compromising your healthcare to save a few Rands? Before signing up, you need to look closely at what you can expect in return for your monthly premiums.


About Comparison Sites

Many of the tasks we perform routinely, such as banking and booking accommodation, have been made simpler by the internet. Comparison sites are another example, offering a means to compare medical aids quickly without contacting multiple providers. However, these facilities are not merely an act of generosity by some public-spirited benefactor. They are a source of income from those who choose to offer their services in this manner. Choices are unlikely to include all of the 18 open schemes operating in South Africa, so it will pay you to check more than one comparison site.

Naturally, the monthly premium charges could influence your choice, but don’t just opt for the cheapest. Select all those you can afford as the starting point before you compare medical aids.


Examine the Benefits of Each Affordable Product Closely

All schemes offer a choice of several products. These differ in price according to the contingencies covered, and the extent of the financial support promised for each that define a member’s benefits. Emergencies apart, you should have a fair idea of your probable needs and those of any family members you might wish to include, based on previous experience. Making sure that these requirements, at least, will be adequately insured will be crucial for your protection when you start to compare medical aids.

You may be surprised to discover that some products may offer to pay up to 200% or more of the cost of a particular treatment. However, that does not mean you could profit from a claim. In practice, the offer reflects the reality that although there are recognised tariffs for every eventuality, private doctors and clinics are free to charge what they like. Some might ask up to five times the recommended figure. So, 200% only means twice the baseline charge. Consequently, when you compare medical aids, you need to understand that the actual cost could be more, leaving you to pay the excess. Many schemes appoint preferred service providers to secure more favourable tariffs and limit their members’ liability for co-payments.


Consider a Hospital Plan

In recent years, recessionary factors have forced schemes to seek innovative ways to keep premium prices affordable. The result has been a proliferation of a less comprehensive form of private healthcare cover known as a hospital plan. Although it will still be sensible to compare these medical aid products, they offer the cheapest form of cover available. They are a viable option for anyone with good general health and sufficient income to meet most of the out-of-hospital costs they may incur. While focussed mainly on in-patient needs, they must also cater for chronic illness and often include cover for other services such as dentistry and optometry.


Choose an Established Scheme

With more than half a century’s experience, KeyHealth is an established leader in its field. Learn more about our hospital plans and fully comprehensive offerings and compare our extensive range of affordable medical aid products or contact us for further assistance.