Podcast: Choosing a medical aid

In Latest, The Fat Wallet by Kristia van Heerden

I hate the legwork that goes into making decisions about insurance and medical aid. Imagine, then, my delight when Wesley Amos asked me to do a show on choosing a medical aid. I procrastinated for a while, but then my friend Amy added her voice to the chorus. Et tu, Amy?

This week we forego some of the feedback and attempt to give Wesley and Amy a base to work from. There are actually a few local medical aid comparison sites that help you choose between different funds and options. I liked this one. However, they won’t be of much use if you don’t know what to look for.


The strategy I came up with is simple: start with cover for whatever is most life-threatening and build from there until you run out of budget. I am a happy taxpayer, but watching my grandmother ail and finally die in a public hospital with minimal care has impressed upon me the importance of access to well-staffed, well-funded medical services. Nothing like actual, literal death to bring that little lesson home.

Because I abhor the idea of doing the paperwork to change medical schemes, I make sure that I make the most of the plan I have. For example, for some reason it’s perfectly acceptable for medical aids to make you pay for your medical care from your savings account and your pocket until you reach a certain amount before jumping in. It’s a fuckery I don’t understand, but I take it very seriously. Every medical transaction is a bullfight. Come at me, bro.

The worst part of the whole medical aid business is watching myself get slowly screwed over the years. I received the annual “benefit and contribution changes” email at the beginning of November. Not only will my contribution go up by 12.5% per month next year, my out of hospital benefit has been scrapped, my threshold level has been increased, reimbursement rates have halved, prescribed medication limits have decreased. The list goes on and on. It’s death by a thousand papercuts for which you can receive no medical attention because you can’t afford it.

This show is a reminder that world is a crazy, cruel place. If you’re looking for places to storm, start with your medical aid headquarters.


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