What is medical aid?

Medical schemes (or medical aids) are the main funders of private healthcare in South Africa. Members of a medical scheme such as Discovery Health Medical Scheme pay contributions to the scheme each month.

This money is pooled and then used to pay healthcare expenses in accordance with the scheme’s rules and the member’s choice of plan, protecting members against the possibility of facing significant unexpected medical costs.

All medical schemes in South Africa operate in accordance with the Medical Schemes Act 131 of 1998, and are regulated by the Council for Medical Schemes


Why do I need medical aid if I am young and healthy?


Everyone needs some form of medical aid cover. Few of us could afford the costs of long hospital stays or care for serious injuries, surgery, or chronic illnesses – for example, it costs R8 500 a night for a premature baby to stay in a private hospital’s neonatal unit (some stay for five months), and that’s just the bed, without any consultations, medicine or medical supplies. Medical schemes help us finance life’s curved balls when we can’t do it alone.

It’s advisable to evaluate your medical aid coverage each year to make sure you have adequate cover for your needs or for any changes in your health, for example, deciding to have a child or being diagnosed with a chronic condition.

More importantly, traumatic events like a car accident, crime-related incidents or sport-related incidents can happen to anyone at any age or life stage. The costs associated with one of these random, high-risk events can run into many thousands of rands, which few people can afford at any life stage – especially when you’re young.

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