Hospital plan for the young
for a good hospital plan for my very healthy 23-year-old daughter and 25-year-old son is just under R800/month each. That’s the same per month as for my wife and me, with both of us already having plenty of aches and pains. There’s something rotten in the state of medical cover here so we started looking for alternatives.
Let’s start at the top – and let’s not be shy about naming them, since they’re the biggest in South Africa. Discovery Health offers two medical funds. Or perhaps we should call it a medical fund on two legs: the so-called hospital plan and the medical savings plan. The hospital plan offers you protection against any planned and unplanned medical treatment requiring hospitalisation. In fact, it’s simply an insurance policy, more or less like your car insurance. Pay the premium every month and if something goes wrong, the insurer will pay for fixing the dents in the car. If you’ve been lucky during the year and no one crashed into you, the insurance was a plain waste of money.
The hospital leg of a medical fund is exactly the same. It’s an insurance policy and can pay out a lot more than what your premiums were if you need it. It’s a good thing. Don’t do without it.
The so-called medical savings plan is completely unnecessary and any person with a bit of selfdiscipline and a few rand in the bank or a facility on his credit card shouldn’t need a medical savings plan. Briefly and very simply: every month you contribute R1 000 to a medical savings plan and that entitles you to planned medical expenses totalling R12 000 over the next 12 months. That’s for unnecessary visits to your doctor and taking pills for colds, called flu. It also covers the cost of having your teeth seen to from time to time.
Once you’re exhausted the funds in your medical savings plan the amount reimbursed on your claims is much reduced.
Leave that well alone. Get an ordinary credit card at a bank and call it your medical credit card. Put a red cross on it to remind yourself. Pay R1 000 into it every month, just as you would into a medical savings plan. Ask the bank for a credit facility of R12 000 on the card and use it for your day-to-day medical expenses.
There are many advantages to having your own “medical credit card” rather than a savings plan. Let me give you just two. You know immediately that you’ve paid for your medical expenses yourself. That means the end of the usual wasteful habit of “we’ve got a medical aid, so take the children to the doctor because they’ve got a cough”. You’ll soon learn to buy some tablets from the chemist instead.
In fact, every pharmacist worth his salt will already have made up his special cold cure for the winter. That shouldn’t cost more than R50. If it does, go to another chemist. And if you have your own medical credit card, rather than a Discovery savings plan, it will also help your GP to use his own knowledge rather than that of a specialist and three sets of blood tests to