Open medical aids are schemes that are open for membership by any person. It is not restricted to workers of certain sectors of industry within South Africa. Neither does it have specific requirements in terms of academic criteria, or membership to certain trade unions or professional associations. While open medical aids account for a smaller number of schemes when compared to restricted medical aids, it is usually financially stable and efficient private entities that provide a quality service. Any person looking for medical aid cover outside of their industry should consider speaking to individual schemes mentioned in the list of medical aids below.
There is just over 100 medical aids in South Africa, a few of which are open schemes while the rest are restricted. This number may seem like there is an oversupply of medical aids in the country, and to some extent there is, but it is important to realise that most medical aids cater only for certain industries, professionals or unions. As long as the South African economy remains as diverse as it currently is, there is no doubt that there will continue to be a large number of medical aids in existence. Similarly there is a matter of consumer choice – some people prefer one scheme while others another. There is a difference between open and restricted medical aid schemes and understanding how the two differ can help prospective members make an informed decision.