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Can South Africans Still Get Affordable Medical Aid in 2024?


South Africans are still battling inflation with little hope of a respite this year. One of many concerns is how to get affordable medical aid in 2024. Given the untimely wake-up call provided by the pandemic and the steady decline in the public healthcare sector, private treatment is now the only way for many to escape the lengthy waiting lists and the staff and equipment shortages that are now forcing this once enviable institution to its knees.

Like all private sector operations, private healthcare is a commercial enterprise offering its services for profit. Those profits enable private clinics to hire the leading medical professionals in their respective fields of expertise, purchase state-of-the-art equipment and technology and furnish their premises to the highest standards.

Naturally, access to such luxuries comes at a cost. Despite the public sector’s shortfalls, social inequalities have meant that it is the only viable option for around 71% of the population (almost 43 million). Of the remainder who have access to private treatment, around nine and a half million could not afford it without help from one of the nation’s 76 medical schemes. More worryingly, even many of those have needed to find cheaper options to continue receiving support with their private healthcare expenses.


Common Strategies to Help Members Get Affordable Medical Aid in 2024

One cannot and, indeed, should not put a price on good health. However, if you can’t wait for treatment from the public sector, private healthcare carries a substantial price tag, and it has grown more than usual in recent years.

Although the Department of Health sets recommended tariffs for every procedure, medicine and disposable instrument used, these hold no sway in the private sector, where it is common practice to charge double, triple or even five times these rates. To be clear, when some schemes promise to pay 100%, 200% or 300%, they refer to the DOH tariffs, meaning a member could still be liable for a co-payment in some cases.

Most medical aid companies’ boards of trustees recognise the hardship a premium increase can inflict on members and their dependents and strive to keep them to a minimum. Nevertheless, steadily rising costs mean that however modest, the need for annual price hikes is unavoidable. The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) must approve all such increases prior to implementation to ensure fair practice.

In addition, scheme managers strive to develop more affordable options for those members who can no longer afford the product they have. However, they differ in the strategies they have adopted to ensure their members can get affordable medical aid in 2024. Essentially, they rely on one or more of the following options:

  • Incentives: These don’t actually reduce the cost of medical aid benefits. Instead, they offer savings in other areas, like gym memberships and movie tickets. Nevertheless, if fully utilised, members can claim to have saved money.
  • Additional free core benefits: In this case, the added value is measurable, genuinely free of charge and directly relevant to the member’s healthcare needs.
  • Designated service provider network: The scheme directs its members to specified clinics, pharmacies, and medical professionals who, in exchange, agree to more favourable tariffs. Members may choose other providers but may be charged more and are still restricted to the agreed claim limits.

If you hope to get affordable medical aid in 2024, don’t just base your decision on the premiums. Focus instead on the precise benefits you will receive in exchange for your hard-earned cash and how relevant these may be to your healthcare needs and, if applicable, those of your family.


How KeyHealth Medical is Helping You to Get Affordable Medical Aid in 2024

As one of South Africa’s oldest and most trusted medical schemes, we do not need to offer incentives to grow our membership. Our focus remains to provide our members with the core healthcare benefits they need at a price they can afford. To that end, we offer the combined savings of a designated service provider network and the following unique core benefits included with all but Essence, our entry-level hospital plan, at no extra charge:

Contact KeyHealth Medical today to get affordable medical aid in 2024 and enjoy these valuable extras for free.