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Choosing a Medical Aid in South Africa


 

  

  

Healthcare in South Africa 

South Africans are lucky in that they have access to some of the best healthcare facilities and service providers in the world. South African innovations and research have earned and enjoyed the respect of the world for many years and continue to do so.  

Healthcare in South AfricaAll South African citizens have access to the public health system, even if they are not able to contribute a cent towards treatment and medication. Citizens can also decide to rather opt for private health care, using privately owned hospitals and private service providers.

Such services are expensive, however, and most people can only afford private healthcare by becoming members of a medical aid scheme. There are many large medical schemes that cater for South Africans and there are numerous plans offered. Each plan offers different levels of cover and the prices of the various plans can differ wildly, depending upon the benefits that are included. 

What is wrong with the public health system? 

The South African public healthcare system has come under fire on many occasions for not being able to provide quality care and newspapers regularly carry horrific stories of patient abuse, neglect from nursing staff and unhygienic conditions at hospitals and clinics.

Some of the criticisms are certainly valid, but not all of them. The system has to cope with complex problems while dealing with a shortage of staff, funds and facilities. In fact, the system has to provide health care for eighty percent of the population and only forty percent of the actual cost of such treatments is provided for in the budget. This makes for serious shortfalls and unique difficulties. 

The fact is that the public health system is doing an admirable job under the circumstances. It compares extremely well with public systems in some developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United states and it simply outshines to systems offered in much of Africa and Asia. 

The South African Health Department hopes to address the problems by instituting a National Health Insurance were every citizen will have access to superior health care. In terms of the proposed legislation all tax payers will have to make monthly contributions to the public health system. This seems reasonable because every single South African has access to that system.  

By and large, most of the criticism against the public health system can be ascribed to the following issues: 

  • The public healthcare system has to make provision for millions of people that are so poor that they simply cannot afford to make any contribution towards their treatment at state facilities. This place inordinate pressure upon the system.
  • Many people criticize the system because they feel that waiting times are too long, they are unable to make appointments for specific times and they have to deal with the fact that medical practitioners are extremely busy and unable to pay personal attention to each patient.
  • South Africa has to deal with the HIV / AID pandemic and other diseases such as tuberculosis is rife, placing even more pressure on the system. 

There is another option: private health care 

The use of the public health system is by no means the only option available to South Africans. The country boasts a large private health system that serves millions of members.

Members of medical schemes have access to private service providers and they can be treated in private hospitals. This privilege comes at a cost, however. It is necessary to join a medical scheme and to choose one of the many plans offered. Comprehensive medical cover can be very costly, but there are also many affordable plans that have limited benefits but that will cover serious conditions and emergencies. © Medical Aid Plan