How to Spend Less on Medical Costs and Healthcare in SA

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South Africans are struggling to pay for basic healthcare, let alone major medical procedures or surgeries. Even those who do have jobs or pensions are finding it increasingly difficult to cover medical expenses.

If your goal is to cap healthcare costs in the new year, here are 5 easy ways to spend less without compromising the health and wellbeing of yourself, or your family:

Take the preventative approach   

The best way to save money on healthcare is not having the treatment in the first place. Living an active and healthy lifestyle can go a long way in preventing chronic conditions and dread diseases.

Not smoking, exercising regularly, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, and only eating foods low in sugar, salt and fats, are key to good health and longevity.

Similarly, having routine medical tests and screenings is a responsible way of taking care of yourself, and your family. 

As most medical aid schemes offer preventative healthcare benefits that cover early detection screenings, it costs nothing extra to err on the side of caution.

Shop around for healthcare providers

If you don’t have medical aid, you can cut costs by shopping around for the most affordable health care providers – specialists and GPs, pharmacists and pathology labs.

Some providers, such as Lancet Laboratories, offer lower rates for customers who are not covered by medical aid, provided payments are made in cash.

Pharmacists are usually willing to supply written quotes for the chronic or day to day medicines you have been prescribed. That way you can find the best supplier in terms of value for money.

It is always a good idea to discuss your financial situation with each provider, so as to negotiate the best possible rates.

Only use network providers

As a medical aid member, you can conserve costs by only using specialists, doctors, pharmacies and hospitals on the scheme network. Rates are pre-negotiated by the scheme, and are always covered in full if there are funds available on day to day benefits (depending on plan type).

When you choose to use a non-network provider, a co-payment is usually levied, which you have to pay from your own pocket.

Choose generics over brand medicines

You can spend less on your pharmacy bill by chatting to the pharmacist about your medicine options. 

Most of the most commonly prescribed drugs have cheaper generics that contain exactly the same active ingredients as the branded medicines.

Generics are as safe and effective as their branded counterparts, and are available at a fraction of the cost.

Get the most cost-effective medical aid plan

One major cost saving relates to medical aid cover. Although we would all like to have the most comprehensive benefits money can buy, it is not always possible.

The better option is to subscribe to a medical aid plan that offers the cover you need; at the price you can afford.

  • Income-based plans provide benefits commensurate with monthly salary bands, and are unambiguous options suitable for low- to mid-level income earners. The Health Squared Foundation and Medshield MediPhila plans are a good place to start.
  • Young and healthy individuals may find pure hospital plans meet both their healthcare requirements and budgets. Options range from Momentum Health Custom and Health Squared Hospital plan to BonEssential by Bonitas.
  • Growing families are arguably best covered by hospital plans with savings, such as Discovery Health Classic or Coastal Saver plans, Fedhealth flexiFed series and Bonitas BonSave.
  • Older folk who need chronic medicines, joint replacements, scopes and scans will undoubtedly want the highest level of cover they can afford, and comprehensive plans fit the bill. Options vary from Fedhealth Maxima Exec and Classic Comprehensive by Discovery Heath to BonComprehensive by Bonitas.

AT IFC medical aid brokers we have years of experience in matching the best medical aid cover with individual budgets. Give us a call right now on 021 593 3012 and take the first step towards spending less on medical costs in 2020.

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