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Providing Medical Aid for the Single Person


Without the financial support provided by the nation’s medical aid schemes, for the single person and for most South Africans, this would mean relying on the overburdened and underfunded state health service in times of illness. Only the wealthiest individuals would be in a position to meet the high cost of receiving private treatment.

The schemes offer a variety of products which, between them, are intended to provide affordable medical aid for everyone from the single person to couples, families, and single parents. Each product is designed to meet the most likely needs of the particular demographic group and, most importantly, to be offered at a cost that is consistent with each group’s average income. In the case of a couple, for example, not only must the cover extend to include both the main member and a dependent, but it may also need to cover conditions applicable to both male and female members.

Clearly, the premium cost will be proportionately higher than when providing medical aid for a single person. However, since most couples, today, tend to enjoy two incomes, the higher cost should not be a burden on their monthly budget.

In the case of an unmarried individual, the extent of the cover required is likely to be determined by his or her age. For the younger person, who has, perhaps, recently finished studying and has only a relatively modest disposable income, the state of his or her general health will be the deciding factor. Where this is good, the only contingency that young singles really need to provide for is any form of medical emergency. A traffic accident or a bout of acute appendicitis could be a financial disaster. Thus, the best form of medical aid for a young and generally healthy single person could be a hospital plan. If, however, he or she is studying full-time, it should also be possible to obtain cover up until the age of 27 under a parent’s scheme. In such cases, the parent will continue to be charged the rate normally reserved for a dependent child.

It is an unfortunate, but inescapable fact that, as human beings get older, they become more susceptible to aches and pains and their visits to the doctor tend to become more frequent. Furthermore, it is frequently the case that, whether by choice or by mishap, a significant proportion of those in their mid-years now tend to be living alone. In the case of an older single person, the need will be for a more comprehensive medical aid product, and so, it would be unwise to continue relying on a hospital plan.

It is often at this stage of one’s life that the signs of a chronic illness, such as diabetes or heart disease first become apparent. Cover for such conditions is classified as a prescribed minimum benefit which, in the case of a hospital plan, is only mandatory during periods spent as an in-patient, even though ongoing financial support will be required throughout the entire year.

In summary, the medical aid options suitable for the single person are prone to vary as he or she ages. It is, therefore, vital to ensure the cover one receives includes those benefits most relevant to one’s overall health at any given time.