Medical schemes are keen to attract and retain younger members, who tend to be healthier and claim less than older members, to stay competitive.
Gary Feldman, executive head of healthcare consulting at NMG Consultants and Actuaries, offers guidance on the benefits and factors to consider when choosing a medical scheme, if you are a parent of a young family.
Tip: Are you unable to afford medical cover due to debt? Consider debt consolidation.
What to consider when shopping around
Feldman advises selecting an option based on the following:
- The ability to change your options – from hospital, network, or savings plans, to traditional or hybrid options – as your needs evolve.
- The availability of maternity and prenatal programmes.
- Comprehensive immunisation benefits for children.
- Preventative care benefits for early detection and prevention of illness.
- Surgery and hospitalisation cover for paediatric procedures such as tonsillectomies and grommet insertions.
Specific benefits to look for
Various medical schemes offer specific programmes, rates, or benefits for children. Feldman provides some helpful examples below.
Rewards for healthy behaviour
Some schemes encourage healthy behaviour in children. “With Discovery Health’s Vitality loyalty programme, you receive back 50% of the cost of your children’s meals at eateries such as Nando’s and Mugg & Bean,” says Feldman. “Children also earn weekly rewards for answering online questions and participating in learning games.”
Screenings and chronic cover
Bonitas offers a wide range of health screenings, tests, and vaccines for all life stages, and a specific mother and child benefit, says Feldman. Bestmed’s chronic cover includes treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and severe acne, and free preventive dentistry for all dependents.
Extended age for child dependents
Some medical schemes offer child-dependent rates for offspring over the age of 21. “With Bonitas and Bestmed, you pay child-dependent rates up to age 24, whether they’re studying or not,” Feldman notes. “If your child is a student, Bestmed raises the age to 26.”
Early detection of diseases decreases the risk of complications, and saves money for you and your medical scheme. “Some schemes, such as Bonitas, Discovery Health, and Momentum Medical Scheme, actively encourage and reward preventative screening. This leads to better health outcomes in the long run,” Feldman says.
The value of professional advice
You don’t have to weigh up the options alone. Speak to a reputable medical aid consultant who can advise you on the best solution for your specific needs, Feldman advises.
Tip: Before choosing a medical scheme, evaluate your financial situation. Use this budget calculator to help you plan.