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Monday, March 1, 2010
Bedside chat

With South African households feeling the pinch and many of us tightening our belts even further, medical aid may have dropped a few notches on your list of financial priorities. But giving in to the temptation to save money by cancelling your health care could be a costly decision. The importance of medical insurance cannot be stressed enough: if you're caught sick or in an accident without it, it could lead to even greater financial pressure, and even bankruptcy.

Health insurance can be a significant monthly expense, especially for larger families, so it’s important to compare plans and costs to find the best option for your family's needs. With the escalating medical inflation, health care expenses today are much higher than ever before. If a member of the family has to see a doctor or be hospitalised, and you are not adequately covered, your out-of-pocket costs are going to be a lot higher than you might ever have planned for.
When planning your healthcare cover, write down a basic medical history for each member of the family, including treatment they are likely to require in the upcoming year. You should also include the following 10 points as part of your annual checklist:
• How often do you or a member of the family visit the doctor?
• What types of doctors do you visit? Paediatricians, GPs, specialists, oncologists, neurologists, etc
• How much money do you spend on Over-the-counter medicine each month?
• Do you require cover for chronic medication?
• Are you planning to incur any major medical expenses this year, eg pregnancy and birth, surgery, etc
• What are the family’s annual eyeglasses needs?
• How often do you visit the dentist and what are your family’s dental needs? Eg Orthodontics, dental hygiene, root canal and the like.
• What annual check-ups do you or members of the family require? Eg Mammogram, cholesterol test, cancer screening, bone density tests, etc.
• Do you or any members of the family have travel plans for which healthcare cover is required?
• Are any members of the family involved in dangerous or contact sports where there is a risk of injury?

Says Dr James Arens, Clinical Operations Executive of Pro Sano Medical Scheme, “Consumers have to understand intimately their own health risks to be able to choose the most appropriate health care option for their family’s needs. Many people may, in the current economic climate, be tempted to go for lower cost options. This is quite acceptable as long as one understands and is willing to accept the risk that the chosen cover may not cover all the bills.
“Comprehensive medical scheme cover, where possible, is a more realistic way of insuring your family and it does provide peace of mind.”

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:23.3 1st March, 2010
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