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How to Compare Medical Aids in South Africa, and Why You Should

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The spiralling costs of private healthcare have made it essential for the majority of us to depend on some form of insurance to help meet those costs if we need treatment or hospitalisation. The market offers a choice of either medical insurance or medical aid. The former makes payments directly to the insured, leaving them to settle any related accounts, while the latter will generally make payments directly to the relevant service providers and provides more extensive cover. With more than 90 funds to choose from, it is important to compare medical aids in South Africa before committing yourself and your dependents to membership of a particular scheme.

Given the current economic climate, and the need for most people to cut down on their spending, it might be tempting to base one’s comparisons purely on the amount of the monthly membership contributions. While it is understandable that price is likely to be a significant factor, it should not be the primary one, as ultimately, it will be the extent of the cover provided that will determine whether or not a given product will be able to meet your family’s healthcare needs effectively. Accordingly, before setting out to compare medical aids in South Africa, it will be crucial to determine just how much and what sort of cover you and any dependent members are most likely to require.

If you are a full-time employee, however, the choice of fund might be out of your hands. In many cases, an employer will commit to the automatic enrolment of staff members in one of the nation’s closed schemes, in exchange for reduced premiums based upon a special group membership rate. In such cases, the fund offers a choice of products with different benefits based on the premiums charged, while the employer will normally contribute a portion of the premium as a condition of service. Therefore, only the self-employed and those who have no access to a group scheme should have a need to compare medical aids in South Africa.

If you need to do so, you must be quite sure that you are comparing apples with apples. There is probably a limit to what you can afford, so you might begin your search by selecting all of the options that fall within your price range. Fortunately, there is no longer a need to browse the yellow pages and make numerous telephone enquiries, as there are now a number of online comparison sites that one can browse for this purpose. However, while these sites make the task quicker and simpler, they should be used purely for screening. To compare medical aids effectively in South Africa, it will be necessary to review those on your shortlist more closely.

In addition to reviewing the benefits offered by each of a company’s products, check for evidence of financial stability and its reputation for prompt payment of claims. Often, a company’s longevity will prove to be a further indicator of its member’s trust. The reality is that all schemes are not equal, and some attempt to hide their shortfalls behind reams of T&Cs. For total transparency, stability, and affordable products with some unique, free core benefits, few medical aids in South Africa compare with KeyHealth

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