How to get the most out of your medical aid
Extremely high medical costs mean that many South Africans prudently subscribe to a medical aid scheme. But how do you make the most of your selected package?
Here are 10 tips to help ensure you enjoy the medical scheme benefits to which you’re entitled.
Read the fine print: You may have stayed with the same plan for many years. Take time to understand the rules and benefits, which may have changed since you first signed up.
Maximise your money: Take up preventative health screenings and tests, free vaccinations, and baby programmes. You may also decide to register for a programme to better handle a chronic condition.
Explore loyalty programmes: Benefits could vary from product discounts to travel and retail promotions, and subsidised gym memberships.
Spread out claims: Rather than blow your allocation early in the year on over-the-counter purchases, speak to your pharmacist and health practitioners about how to best allocate medical, optical, and dental purchases. Keep your benefits for essential medicines and services.
Choose wisely: Ask your doctor to prescribe generics which cost less. Whether you are looking at over-the-counter medication, or prescription drugs, generics can cut your bill considerably.
On the record: Be meticulous about filing claims and saving correspondence.
Plan for a procedure: If you require an operation or specialist treatment, obtain pre-authorisation. Do your homework, get a quote from the hospital and medical practitioners before you are admitted. Determine if there will be a shortfall and plan how to fund this. Check if you can use designated healthcare providers on your medical aid’s network for cheaper rates.
Back a buddy: Oncology and other treatments can make one feel under par for a lengthy period. Ask a family member or friend to help you keep track of medical claims and submissions, or offer to do the same for them.
Conflict resolution: If you’re having difficulties resolving a problem with a call centre agent, find out if your medical aid has a walk-in service. Dealing with someone face to face can help resolve a problem quicker.
Saving grace: Should you have problems keeping up with payments, speak to your medical aid about alternative, cheaper plans. Don’t drop your medical aid completely as medical bills can be enormous.
If you don’t yet have a medical aid, do comparisons online or ask for advice from a qualified broker. This will help you to choose the scheme and plan that offers the best possible cover for your age and personal circumstances.
Sarah Nicholson is Justmoney’s commercial manager