When medical aid becomes too expensive
It’s that time of year again, when many people receive emails and letters stating the dreaded increase in medical aid tariffs for the coming year. Times are tough with the cost of living exceeding inflation and necessities such as electricity and petrol becoming increasingly hard on the pocket.
Providing for your and your family’s healthcare needs is arguably as important, if not more important, than rent or bond and car repayments. And now they seem to rank right up there in terms of cost with some medical aid tariffs for a family of four costing well over R5000 per month.
Medical aid tariff increases for 2012 average at around 9,4%, with some notifying members of as much as 12,3%*. But tariff increases alone are not information enough to determine exactly how affordable or unaffordable a medical aid is. Many medical schemes have made adjustments to their rules and benefits further impacting the amount members will be required to pay in for short falls in payments for services. Some medical aids which covered members up to 300% of medical aid tariff have moved to reduce this to 200% of medical aid tariff and another leading medical aid has recently taken some heat for limiting how much it will pay for services of as many as 15 categories of health professionals including psychologies and physiotherapists.
Essential Med’s Basic policy provides policyholders with unlimited access to GP consultations, medication (chronic and acute included), referred pathology and radiology as well as limited dentist and optometry consultations and associated costs. These services are provided through the Care Cross network of more than 3000 health professionals nationwide. Accident and emergency hospitalisation is also provided for along with a death and permanent disability benefit.
“If a medical aid member chooses to downgrade their medical aid to a more affordable in-hospital cover only and supplement it with this policy their and their families healthcare needs are almost 100% covered at a considerably more affordable rate.” The Essential Med Basic policy option will cost a family of four only R804 per month.
For those who find the new increases of their medical aid simply too much to service, the Essential Med Boost policy option offering the same day-to-day benefits as described above along with daily provisions for illness, dread disease, accident, maternity and emergency hospitalisation and death and permanent disability benefits.
Health insurance is not a medical aid but is becoming increasingly more popular as a more affordable option. When understood and managed properly, health insurance offers complementary benefits to a basic medical aid and in many cases a perfectly suitable alternative to medical aid for a young healthy family.
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* Source: Money Marketing. ‘2011 Medical Aid increases – what consumers must watch out for.’