It is a regrettable fact that private healthcare services would be out of the reach of almost everyone in South Africa without access to an affordable medical aid scheme. Many of the state-run hospitals are now limited to providing primary care, while others continue to be plagued by spiralling demands and chronic underfunding. This has led to long queues in the emergency and outpatient departments and equally lengthy waiting lists for this in need of surgery. Not surprisingly, the private sector has become the more viable option, at least, for those who have sufficient income to meet the premiums.
For many people, deciding on the right scheme can be something of a balancing act in which it is important for them to weigh the cost of the monthly payments against the value and the relevance of the cover they will be receiving. Considering the cost, however, is as much about security as the economy. Unless the monthly medical aid premiums are affordable, missing one could mean being denied cover. Although, in South Africa, these schemes are not permitted to load premium prices because a member has an existing problem or has made a lot of claims, as is the case with motor insurance. However, in common with the short-term insurers, they are entitled to suspend cover if a member should fail to keep up with the premiums.
As a general rule, the more comprehensive the cover a scheme provides, the higher the monthly premiums are likely to be. One way to avoid blowing the monthly budget is to select a product with a more limited range of benefits, such as a hospital plan. This is the ideal choice for young people with good general health, but a limited income, or for families who can afford to pay for their day-to-day private healthcare, but who would struggle if faced with a bill of more than R300 000 for a heart bypass.
For truly affordable medical aid in South Africa, whether fully comprehensive or providing more basic cover, KeyHealth is hard to beat.