Hospital Plans – A Viable Alternative for Many in South Africa
Hospital plans are not a new idea. In South Africa, this type of product was actually the earliest form of private healthcare cover to be offered. The brainchild of the country’s existing insurance industry, the basic design of these products differed little from that of motor and life policies, in that the sums offered were more related to the cost of premiums than to the actual expenses incurred. When medical aid schemes appeared soon after, they offered a similar product that was only applied during periods as an in-patient. Where they differed, however, was in paying the bulk of the actual cost and not merely a pre-agreed, fixed sum.
Today, so-called hospital cash plans are still offered in South Africa by a number of insurance companies, but given the marked shortfall in the sums paid out, they are more normally seen as the means with which to compensate for lost income or to cover the modest co-payments that are sometimes required by today’s more comprehensive products. While it is reassuring to know that one’s healthcare expenses are fully covered in all circumstances, for many, this is not an affordable option and, in practice, such extensive cover is often not necessary.
For young people of sound general health but modest incomes and older people whose finances are sufficient to meet their day-to-day medical expenses, hospital plans are a viable alternative. In South Africa, as in most countries, the cost of a week or two in a private clinic, coupled with major surgery and all of the associated expenses for specialists, diagnostic services, disposables and medication, can often exceed one’s annual income. Without such cover, however limited, an accident or an unforeseen emergency could result in untold hardship for both the patient and his or her family.
It needs to be stressed, however, that this is quite unsuitable for anyone with ongoing medical problems that require costly treatment. At KeyHealth, we offer a range of exceptionally affordable products that provide the benefits of hospital plans in South Africa.