Medical aid for a salaried employee working in the private sector can be a very costly contribution. At times it even feels like a forced contribution due to the fact that one has no choice not to be on a medical aid and secondly, there is no choice around which medical aid fund to join. Whichever fund your employer has is what you must join, one cannot do a competitiveness assessments between the various funds. I say for employees working in the private sector because government medical aid are subsidized.
A few years ago (if I remember correctly), my sister had given birth in a private hospital and the bill that had followed her after the operation was almost unmanageable. Most recently, a friend of mine had a minor accident and had to undergo treatment and this left him with a medical aid bill to settle and benefits exhausted. My colleague also underwent blood tests that depleted her daily benefits and a results, she has to pay cash for any doctor appointment in the next six months.
In light of this, I just thought I should share some tips in relation to medical aid cost management:
- Before you sign up, please speak to other people in your company that have been on the option you want and enquire around the excess they had to pay on medications, how frequent they went to the doctor, what their experiences are with regards to the daily benefits including self medication. Hearing it from someone that has been using the option is better than hearing from the fund itself.
- Assess your own medical situation in light of the costs implication in point 1. If you are that person that get sick often, then you would want to ensure that you are adequately covered. If you maybe do not get sick regularly, you can go for a less expensive option that at least have cover for unforeseen illness such as hospital admission.
- Have money aside from medical emergency. Although my friend’s benefits were exhausted, he had money aside that enabled him to receive treatment. You need not to pay upfront ,but at least when you get the bill, you have some cash reserve to settle and sleep peacefully. I also have a friend who had to come up with a payment arrangement with the medical aid because the bill was too high for her to settle once off. Do not just accept, explore how you can settle better.
- Be mindful of the age bracket shift. Normally medical premiums are grouped in age brackets in multiples of 5. The monthly premium can get steep when you are shifting brackets resulting in less disposable income. I felt this when I turned 26 last year because that moved me to the next bracket of 26-30. This may not necessary mean that you will be getting a salary increase in that year or the salary increase is at a smaller amount compared to the increase in premium. So be mindful of this and ensure that you will be able to live within your means especially if your budget is tight. If necessary look at downgrading to a lower option if you have no other option.
- If you are married and your spouse has medical aid at a cheaper fund or your spouse is covered by his employer, rather be a dependent on your spouse medical aid and share the costs. It’s legal. You just need to provide your employer proof that you a are dependent on your spouse medical aid so you can get exempted from the mandatory contributions.
And lastly enjoy the benefits of having medical such as:
- Those subsidized gym membership if you go regularly
- The bi- annual dental appointments to keep your Colgate smile
- Access to self medication when you feel like you getting sick
- New vision glasses every second year ( if you have that option)
And many more.
How do you manage your medical costs?