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.