Ever been caught out by an unexpected cost? You’re not alone! No matter how much you plan and prepare and budget, there’s always a little – or big – something that you have to pay for.
One such unplanned expense over the last 18 months for many South Africans has been COVID-19. We took a look at the direct and indirect costs associated with COVID-19 and how you and your family can plan to cover some of these costs.
Medical care costs
COVID-19 is a serious illness and many who become ill require some form of treatment or care. Approved COVID-19 treatments are covered by medical aid and/or the state, so you should be covered for these costs. However, lingering side effects of the illness, which many experience, may not be covered, and you may have to pay for some care costs yourself, such as physiotherapy.
If you opt for an unapproved treatment, such as a drug that has not been approved, you will be liable for the costs yourself.
Top tip: Always make sure you opt for approved care and treatment and find out from your doctor or medical aid if there are any costs you have to pay yourself.
Loss of income as a result of COVID-19
There is always the possibility of losing income when you are ill, and/or if you need to isolate when you have been exposed to the virus. You may need extensive time off work, which may not come with full pay. You may also suffer symptoms for months after you recover, which prevent you from returning to work full time. Self-employed individuals can lose all their income if they are not working.
The potential loss of income is likely to run into the thousands of rands, and you may find your budget cannot meet all your living expenses.
Top tip: Consider taking out income protection insurance such as 1Life Expense Protector. These policies pay a portion or all of your monthly salary, making sure you still earn an income when you cannot work.
The cost of a COVID-19 death
Sadly, some will die as a result of COVID-19. Death comes with many costs: direct costs such as burial costs, and indirect costs such as loss of income in the family. These costs can be covered with a funeral policy and life insurance, so it really is a good idea to keep your policies up to date and make sure you have enough cover.
Top tip: Review your insurance policies to make sure you are not underinsured, and pay your premiums on time.
Depression and mental health costs
Globally, there has been an increase in mental illness and depression since the pandemic started. It really is a stressful time: financial stresses are mounting, and many coping mechanisms such as frequent visits with friends and close contact have been restricted. The net result is that many people are experiencing mental health issues and need professional advice and care, which can cost thousands of rands.
Top tip: Speak to your GP for advice or contact The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) for counselling and support.
Have the vaccine and avoid unnecessary costs
COVID-19 vaccines are proving effective against serious illness, hospitalisation and death. Having the vaccine, in the approved doses, is one way you can avoid serious illness and the associated expenses. Vaccines are free and available at sites across the country. Get vaccinated today if you are not already jabbed!
Be careful and have a plan
It is practically impossible to avoid COVID-19. You are safer when you follow social distancing protocols and wear a mask. But even with these measures you need to plan ahead and make sure that if you, or a family member, is affected by COVID-19, your finances are impacted as little as possible.