The best medical aid in South Africa, like the cheapest medical aid, are highly sought after companies and products that essentially do not exist. The fact of the matter is that no medical aid can truly claim to be better than another. All medical aids essentially offer the same products with the same benefits at approximately the same price. Some medical aid companies have a larger member base. Others have a stronger financial record with larger reserves. However, whether these factors alone can be considered to make one medical aid the best from the lot depends on perception.
Which Medical Aid is the Best?
Consumers are looking for the medical aid plan with the most amount of benefits for the lowest possible price. For most of us, these are the criteria for us to consider one or more medical aids to be the best in the industry. However, it is not as simple as this because of the diversity of medical aids and members in South Africa. Therefore existing medical aid members and prospective members need to come to grips with reality and sign up or stay with a medical aid that suits their specific needs, not just based on price.
Before searching for the all elusive private medical aid that can be said to be the best in the country, it is important to remember that South Africa has over 100 medical aid schemes in existence with about 30 schemes being open to the general public. Common sense would dictate that should one of these private medical aids were significantly better than the rest, then customers would flock to that medical only. There would be no need or place for these hundred somewhat medical aid schemes in South Africa.
Individual Needs Determines Best Scheme
The best medical aid is one that is the best for you. It may not be the best option for others but people are individuals and also have their individual preferences. Your medical aid should have some of the following criteria :
- Be affordable in the context of your personal budget.
- Cover you and your family for your current healthcare needs like chronic diseases.
- Be recognised and widely accepted by doctors, other health care professionals and pharmacies in your area.
- Should have the approval of your employer to ensure that you get the maximum saving on contributions.
- Offer you additional perks that suit your lifestyle although not medically relevant.
This is once again a rather simplistic overview of what may be considered to be the best medical aid for the individual but as repeatedly stress – you get what you pay for and all schemes offer similar benefits for similar prices.
Improving Benefits on Current Medical Aid
Sometimes a person may find that even the most expensive plan with maximum possible benefits is still not the best medical aid for them and their family. This has opened the market for auxiliary financial products like gap cover and hospital cash plans to name but a few. It is important to note that medical gap insurance and hospital cash plans are NOT medical aids in any form. You should never consider leaving your medical aid or even overlooking a medical aid plan in the belief that these products are as good as a medical aid. They are different products altogether that may be handy to have if you can afford it but do not replace a medical aid in any form.
Gap Insurance for a Better Medical Aid
Gap insurance basically tops up on the costs of medical bills that are above and beyond what your medical aid pays. We all know that many doctors and other healthcare professionals charge rates that are not in line with the NHRPL (National Health Reference Price List). This NHPRL rate is what all medical aids use as a guideline to decide just how much they will pay for a service. However, not every doctor and other practitioner is satisfied with these rates and may demand higher fees. Medical aids will only pay the NHRPL and you are liable for the rest from your own pocket. Gap insurance helps you afford this difference for legitimate medical services.
Hospital Cash Plan for Cash in Your Hand
Hospital cash plans, also known as hospital cash back plans, are a completely different product. It is not a medical aid hospital plan in any form. It simply provides you with cash in your hand for each day that you are in hospital. You can use this cash to pay for your medical services but with major procedures, even the best hospital cash plan will not reimburse you a sufficient amount to meet your medical bills. Furthermore, private hospitals, doctors, pharmacies and other health professionals do not accept hospital cash plans as a surety for reimbursement for the services they render or products that they sell to you.