Healthcare in South Africa
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Healthcare in South Africa
The State in South Africa provides basic primary health care, but it is under-resourced and over-used. To fill this gap in healthcare a lot of people turn to private healthcare, which has become a fast-growing industry. Most highly qualified health professionals work in the private sector. As a result, most high and middle-income earners tend to be members of medical schemes (about 18% of the population).
The public services in South Africa can also depend on where in the country you are. The government allocates money to each of the provinces, so healthcare standards can vary between provinces. With less resources and more poor people, places like the Eastern Cape have bigger problems and challenges than wealthier provinces.
Getting private healthcare in South Africa is always a safe option. The quality of national healthcare fluctuates from country to country. The price of the most fundamental care is often very high and this is supposing you find a suitable hospital or doctor to begin with.
Private healthcare, on the other hand, often adheres to a standardisation of service. Consequently, as an expat, it is probably wise to invest in private healthcare at least until you are completely familiar with the national health system. Getting medical treatment for you and your family without comprehensive health insurance could prove arduous, and no-one wants the hassle of bureaucracy in an emergency. You may even find that the country you are emigrating to has no national health service.
The benefits of private healthcare in South Africa include:
Peace of mind
Better efficiency and quality of service
Could save large sums money (possibly thousands of pounds) in the case of an emergency
A vaster choice of services and practitioners
No waiting lists or bureaucracy
Ensures you do not have to settle for local, possibly inadequate or unhygienic, services
Request an English-speaking doctor / nurse
Necessity, not luxury
In recent years, enquiries about private health insurance in South Africa have soared in popularity amongst emigrants. By way of policy comparison, people and businesses are continually looking to reduce the cost of their private healthcare. For many, this is because private health cover is not considered an extravagance, but a requisite for living overseas.
However, it must be acknowledged that the rules and regulations associated with international private healthcare are often complex, and attempts to find realistic costs and cover can be both timely and tedious. Therefore, it is vital to approach private health insurance with a few certainties in mind:
Who can provide it and what you should expect
Many private health insurers now provide cover for most countries, so your options are vast. However, if you are emigrating to a country without nationalised healthcare, there are many factors to consider when choosing an insurance company and policy many of which differ by location and cost.
Will the insurer cover:
A chronic illness / condition?
A country at war?
You will have to weigh-up the costs of such services as private doctors, outpatient medicine, and dental cover. But that's not all. You may also have to decide where you'd like to receive treatment in the case of a serious health problem or injury. Does your adopted nation meet requirements, or would you prefer to return to the UK for treatment?
Your chosen destination
All though a policy may meet your medical requirements, a country's health service may not. Therefore, wherever your business takes you, it is important to consider:
Laws and regulations of the country
Accessibility and availability of treatment
24-hour emergency treatment
Case management and service delivery
Choosing your health insurance policy
When deciding upon a suitable private health plan, will you require any of the following benefits? If so, will you be able to receive them?
The region / country of relocation
Emergency evacuation and transportation
In-patient and day case management
Chronic and existing illnesses and conditions
Dental / optical requirements and treatment
You will find that many policies include a small standard excess, which will be charged either per year, or per claim. However, if you choose a higher excess plan these premiums can be remarkably reduced.
Do I have any other choices?
Treatment in the UK
It is a general truism that emigration is fraught with significant costs. As a result, people often consider private health insurance one cost too many especially if they are on a tight budget. They are all too willing to run the risk.
Consequently, many emigrants and travellers opt to return to the UK for medical treatment, but often overlook the fact that this too can be a very risky option. Firstly, you still need to be registered with a UK doctor to be eligible for treatment upon your return. If unprepared, you could find yourself in the same situation back in the UK.
Secondly, you need to account for medical emergencies which would require immediate attention. Is it really worth the risk?