Medical aid is not a compulsory benefit that employers have to provide for their employees. It is often used as a perk to make a remuneration package more attractive. Even private individuals who hire just one or two people may consider assisting their employees with medical aid cover. It often starts within the household where maids and other domestic workers are assisted with medical aid contributions by their private employer.
Many employers share in the sentiment that a healthy employee is a more productive and happier worker. With the close personal interaction between employer and employee within the homestead, some South Africans want their domestic worker to be as healthy and as well cared for as they are. They may choose to contribute towards a medical aid for their maid or other domestic worker as a means to express their appreciation and offer additional perks to maintain a loyal employee.
Domestic Worker Medical Aid is Not Mandatory
It is not mandatory to provide medical aid for your maid, gardener or other domestic worker. Of course, this may change in the future but for now it is solely at the employer’s discretion. However, it does make sense to assist one’s loyal employee with benefits like medical aid as health care is one of the basic human rights. Unfortunately the state of public health care in South Africa leaves a lot to be desired.Therefore the assistance of the employer in these circumstances can greatly assist in uplifting a person.
With paid sick leave being mandatory in South Africa, employers may find that it is more feasible to have their domestic worker access quality private health care through the protection of a medical aid. This could mean fewer days off sick and shorter hours waiting in long queues at the government clinic or state hospital. Not to mention the repeated comebacks on different days in state health facilities. Sometimes employers are concerned with the domestic worker’s children as well and extend medical aid equally for their benefit.
Costs of Domestic Worker Medical Aid
The fact of the matter is that there is no special discounts on medical aids just for domestic workers. All medical aids basically offer the same benefits for approximately the same price. Employers have to decide as to how much they are willing to contribute towards the medical aids. Similarly they have to carefully discuss the issue with their domestic worker to see how much he/she is willing pay for medical aid. It is always advisable to have a medical aid broker assist in making such a decision. Employers are not required to contribute towards the monthly medical aid premiums but often do so as a perk to retain staff.
Both the employer and the domestic worker should discuss whether a full medical aid is necessary of just a medical aid hospital plan. The costs between these two types of plans differs significantly. Uninformed consumers should beware of hospital cash plans which are NOT medical aids. All too often people sign up for a hospital cash plan only to discover that they cannot access private hospital services with these insurances. A hospital cash plan is a means of financial protection where you are paid cash for each day in hospital. Most private hospital groups in South Africa do not consider these plans as a surety to allow you admission into a hospital.
Cheaper Plans for Domestic Worker
There is no denying that domestic workers the world over are among the lowest paid workers. It is a fact of life given the often unskilled labour that is needed for these jobs in the face of the unemployed masses who are looking for such work. Domestic workers therefore have limited financial resources at their disposal and without their employer contributing significantly to the monthly premium, medical aid may be just plain unaffordable. There are, however, cheaper plans on most medical aids which provide basic medical services through specific clinic and hospital groups or doctors who are preferred providers.
These basic cheaper plans are not unique to a specific medical aid. It may even offer out-of-hospital benefits as well as in-hospital and chronic medication benefits. However, the medical aid member needs to be aware that he/she cannot just walk into any doctor’s rooms and demand treatment as being a member of these cheaper medical aid plans. Some private practitioners are not signed up with these cheaper plans and the medical aid member is therefore forced to only see certain providers, clinics and hospitals. It is also important to note that these cheaper plans may not cover a whole range of medical services as do more expensive medical aid plans. However, it usually provides the essential medical services at the very least.