Towards Providing More Affordable Medical Aid in South Africa
The quest for more affordable medical aid in South Africa is ongoing, and has been a major imperative for fund managers since the need for help with private healthcare expenses was first recognised in the ‘50s. This gap was first filled, not by those with an insight into healthcare needs, but by companies experienced in insurance practices who, in keeping with the industry norm, paid out fixed sums against all claims based, not upon cost incurred, but premium paid.
Only in the following decade, with the advent of a more informed type of insurer, did more comprehensive products that resemble the affordable cover offered by medical aid schemes in South Africa today, begin to take precedence. Strong marketing skills, typical of the short-term insurance industry, and a need for a cheap product has seen these hospital cash plan re-invented and gaining popularity following the global recession.
These plans, however, remain limited in their scope and although seen by those with minimal incomes as a more affordable option, they are not obliged to include cover for prescribed minimum benefits, now a mandatory requirement of all medical aid schemes in South Africa.
A combination of inflation and expensive new technology has seen the costs associated with healthcare spiralling and premium increases have been inevitable, as have the efforts to devise ways to minimise them. Some schemes have managed this by shaving benefits, while others have sought ways to economise with benefit structures more in line with actual, average needs. Many have appointed networks of preferred service providers trading captive business for lower costs.
At KeyHealth, we too are devoted to providing more affordable medical aid in South Africa. For us the solution has been to combine the advantages of a strong network of preferred providers, such as clinics, pharmacies and specialists, with products that focus on patient needs and are not burdened by the cost of non-core benefits like loyalty schemes and other marketing gimmicks. Instead, free add-ons like “Smart Baby” add real value to our affordable medical aid products in South Africa.