It's no secret that healthcare is expensive. According to a report on BHFGlobal.com, the average monthly contribution per beneficiary in 1990 was R74.45 - By 2010 this had risen to R975.82 in 2010. These days the average consultation with a GP, without medical coverage will set you back at least R300 - and that's just to find out what's wrong with you.
Medical expenses will always be a part of our lives and unless a magic pill is invented that cures all injuries and illnesses, they will continue to be for some time to come - Best that we get smart about it then. Here are a few tips:
1.) Keep your medical aid scheme with one provider, if you're married or you have a family. As a principal member you'll pay more but you'll save with lower rates on adult and child dependents.
2.) Do our homework when you're choosing a provider/medical aid scheme. Print out the benefits and contributions for the plans from each medical aid company you're interested in and compare them. Consider your monthly contributions in relation to coverage, for both in hospital and day to day expenses. It's important to take your time with this because certain plans will be better than others, depending on your individual needs.
3.) Consider opting for a hospital plan, especially if you're young. Hospital plans will provide you with cover in the event of an accident and certain specialised procedures but not for visits to the doctor and medication. If you're young, fit and healthy it's unlikely that you'll get sick often and therefore won't be spending much on visits to the doctor. Many people choose a hospital plan and set up a separate monthly savings account in case they need to visit the doctor or buy medicine. Weigh up pros and cons of the different hospital plans and whether it's worth going for one of the options that includes a savings account instead. It's important to note that the amount a medical savings account covers you for is limited and once you've claimed the maximum amount from it, you'll still be required to make the monthly contribution to the savings plan.
4.) Take care of yourself. While adequate medical cover is necessary, prevention will always be better than cure. Sleep well, exercise and eat well. Remember, the healthier you are, the less you'll get sick and ultimately the more money you'll save.
5.) Don't go to the doctor for every little bump and scratch.It's not always necessary to see the doctor every time you get a cold or a bout of hay fever. In many cases minor issues such as colds, hay fever or sinusitis can be taken care of with over the counter medication available at pharmacies or supermarkets. If you get sick, give your body some time to fight back. If you're still not feeling better or your condition worsens after a few days, then by all means go and see your doctor.
6.) Consider generic medicine.Have a chat with your doctor during the consultation about generics and which ones he/she recommends.
7.) Check your bills.Don't just accept everything at face value when it comes to your medical bills. Get a breakdown and check what you've been charged for. It's also important that you know exactly what you're covered for in your medical aid plan, as you may be erroneously charged for something that you shouldn't be paying for.
8.) Make use of rewards programs.If your medical aid plan offers rewards programs (gym memberships, cash back discounts) - Use them!