Your medical aid is one of your bigger monthly expenses, so it’s extremely important to take a closer look at your specific plan to decide what type of cover you need for the year ahead.
Premiums increase every year and in addition to that, the benefits covered by your medical plan change. Make sure that you familiarise yourself with the details of your medical aid benefits for the year ahead.
Jill Larkan, head of Healthcare Consulting at GTC, advises that you ask yourself the following six questions every year:
1. Are you expecting any big medical events next year? Whether it is a baby, elective surgery or extreme dental work, you have to take into account the fact that it is not only the operation that will incur expenses. There’s also hospitalisation, follow-up visits to specialists and post-operation care. Consider upping your cover, but also remember to check if any waiting periods apply.
2. Are you happy with the network? Many medical funds offer discounts if you make use of experts, specialists and hospitals within their approved network. Make sure in advance that you are satisfied with the doctors, specialists and facilities that are prescribed by your medical aid. The approved hospitals may not be close to your home.
3. How long did your medical savings last this year? If your savings are usually used up by March, you may want to consider moving to a better plan. If you can’t afford that, make provision for these extra costs by putting money away in a savings account for monthly medical expenses.
4. How much can you afford each month? It is unfortunately a fact that medical aid costs have increased more than inflation and you’re probably going to have even less disposable income after your medical aid deductions in 2018. Weigh the risk of possible expenses related to unexpected medical emergencies against having less disposable income every month.
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5. Do you know how your current medical plan has changed? Make time to read through the changes for 2018 and determine how they affect your family and medical issues. If there are any uncertainties, contact an adviser at the medical fund you’re with for help.
6. When do you need to decide? Most medical aids work within the scope of a calendar year (1 January – 31 December), but you have to let them know in advance if you want to change your current plan. There are also plans that work from 1 July. Make sure you know how your specific plan works and communicate any changes within the specified window.
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