Medical aid for the family can cost thousands, even tens of thousands of rands a month. You can save on contributions by choosing a hospital medical aid plan that covers your in-hospital expenses only. We’ve compared the three cheapest plans for 2022.
What do hospital medical aid plans cover?
Hospital medical aid plans cover in-hospital costs such as ward and theatre fees, and specialists’ fees. These costs tend to be our biggest medical expenses, so although your GP visits won’t be covered with a hospital plan, you won’t land up with a large hospital bill.
Hospital medical aid plans will also cover emergencies and prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs). These are a list of conditions every medical aid has to cover, including diseases such as high blood pressure and illnesses such as stroke. You will qualify for approved medication and care for these conditions in and out of hospital, although you will usually have to use a designated service provider, such as a doctor or pharmacy who has an agreement with your medical aid. Your medical aid will have a list of these providers.
Hospital medical aid plans don’t cover day-to-day medical expenses such as your pain killers that you get from your pharmacy or visits to healthcare practitioners such as GPs and physiotherapists. You will have to fund these yourself, so keep some savings for these expenses if you are choosing a hospital medical aid plan.
SA’s 3 cheapest hospital medical aid plans for 2022
Based on information at the beginning of November 2021, the three cheapest hospital medical aid plans and monthly contributions for a family of two adults and two children are:
Fedhealth flexiFED 1 Elect:
Genesis Private Choice:
Bonitas Bonessential Select:
You can click here to download the comparison of the most common benefits of these plans. More details are available on the schemes’ websites, or you can ask your financial adviser for more information.
We’ve also explained some of the terms and jargon used in the medical aid world.
Is a hospital medical aid plan right for you?
Hospital medical aid plans are suited to people who don’t have high day-to-day medical expenses or use a lot of medication.
Be careful of choosing a hospital medical aid plan if you spend a lot on day-to-day medical care and over the counter medication. If you have an illness or chronic condition such as arthritis, the out-of-hospital expenses can add up to the point where you are paying more from your own pocket for GP visits and medications than the amount you save in contributions by switching to a hospital plan from comprehensive cover.
Other ways to save on medical aid costs
Hospital medical aid plans are among the cheapest medical aid options, but there are also other lower cost options available. These options are worth exploring.
Medical aid plans with income-based contributions
Some schemes offer plans that have contributions based on income. These plans offer a range of in and out of hospital care, usually at certain hospitals and doctors only. They can be good value for money.
Medical aid plans that have network options
Medical aids offer plans with lower contributions if you use certain providers only. The medical aids negotiate costs with various doctors, specialists and hospitals and agree they will cover costs in full at these providers. The monthly contributions for these plans are cheaper, so consider them for you and your family if there are providers in your area. These are known as network options and sometimes as efficiency discounted options (EDO).
Some medical aids such as Momentum and Bonitas offer plans where you choose the state as a designated service provider, which lowers your costs. If your local public hospital offers good service, these plans are worth considering.
Bottom line: is it right for you?
Don’t only compare plans on the basis of costs. Always remember to assess your needs and compare the benefits the plans offer to see if they meet your needs before making a choice. Your adviser or medical scheme broker can assist you with this.
Original posted: 27 February 2020
Updated on: 12 November 2020
Updated on: 23 November 2021