Good News for Members: Generally Low Medical Aid Premium Increases for 2021

two male doctors talking

As 2020 nears an end, there’s good news for medical scheme members with announcements of generally low medical aid premium increases for 2021.

Average annual increases in medical aid contributions are significantly lower than expected.

What’s driving the lower increases?

According to the schemes’ themselves, the marked drop in demand for non-COVID healthcare services has resulted in the accumulation of significant surpluses.

Excess funds mean more manoeuvrability when it comes to finding the break-even position between expected costs and medical aid claims in 2021. When schemes have high solvency ratios, they can keep the annual escalation of contributions in check.

How Discovery Health is capping premium increases

The largest medical aid in South Africa, Discovery Health, is going one-up on its competitors. The scheme has announced a zero increase in contributions for the first half of 2021. Thereafter, members can expect a weighted annual increase of less than 3%.

How can Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) afford to freeze member contributions until July 2021?

Due to the government-imposed lockdown, elective surgeries were cancelled and fewer South Africans made use of medical services. During the first half of 2020, the demand for healthcare is estimated to have dropped by as much as 40%.

Pooling of reserves

The decline in demand resulted in a reduction in total claims and the pooling of reserves.

In the case of DHMS, the accumulated surplus is now pegged at 20% higher than that of the combined reserves held by all other open medical schemes in South Africa.

As a result, DHMS elected to suspend increases in line with the widely anticipated 0% rise in medical inflation for the first two quarters of 2021.

As of July, contributions will be escalating – but by no more than 5.9% across the entire product range.

Top four medical schemes in South Africa: 2021 increases

What increases are the other medical schemes imposing on premiums in 2021?

Bonitas has announced an average 4.6% rise in contributions for 2021. However, some options will have no increases.

Momentum Health has quoted the low age of its beneficiary base as instrumental in keeping the average weighted increase to just 3.9%, significantly lower than the 8.2% surge in 2020.

Bestmed has, with a 4% increase, imposed the lowest average annual increase in the history of the scheme.

Medshield members can expect to pay an average of 5.9% more for medical aid across all benefit options in 2021.


The news of generally low medical aid premium increases for 2021 makes now a good time to join a medical aid scheme.

At IFC, we offer informed, objective advice and can assist you in joining the scheme that best suits your needs and budget. Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.

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