Private Medical Is Still A Must Have
I was dreading how much my recent hospital stay was going to cost as our private medical aid funds had been depleted for the year meaning we have a gap to pay before we are "free" again. Over the last 10 years we tend to hit the gap far quicker each year and wonder why we even bother.
This year we were paying for medicines and doctors visits from March which when thinking about it is not exactly covering very much. The problem is you can pay more to have a better policy, but there is no real point. I am not generally a sickly person and when I do get something it is normally rather major.
With no funds available my recent "event" started with me popping into the Accident and Emergency at the private hospital around the corner. This way if there is a problem then you are covered as you are not being referred to a specialist via your GP. The GP route is the normal route if you have the funds and that route makes no sense anymore. Your doctor would send you for scans anyway which the hospital does anyway within an hour of arriving at the A&E as this department is always open with no booking required.
My 10 days stay with two different scans was totally covered at no cost to myself. The gallstones they found got me booked in via the back door with access to the specialist and an operation on the house. On top of that I had a procedure at another day clinic which required transport via ambulance to and from that clinic. The specialists were dealing with the medical aid company so they were the ones pulling the strings. I needed this operation so I had no choice and had no idea what the financial damage could be.
Whilst you are having your stay the blood tests continue virtually daily for the first 4 -5 days anyway making sure they have all the information required. This turned out to be the most expensive part of the stay and I cannot complain when you see the costs.
The day of discharge arrived and once I had received my take away bag of medication I was gone and now it was fingers crossed time waiting for the bills to flow in.
I received an SMS from my specialist the following day saying the medical aid had refused to pay the bill and I need to settle the account. This is 10 days under a specialists supervision plus an operation to boot so how much is the damage. R600 ($35) and R800 ($45) for the anesthetist which is damn cheap and thought they had missed some zero's. The blood tests were R6000 ($350) and more in line of what I thought they would be.
The overall bill was a pleasant surprise as $430 for a 10 day stay with all the professionals doing their work this is an unbelievable price. The problem is if you didn't have the medical aid plan you would pay serious amounts using this private hospital. I see no reason in increasing my payments going up to another level offering more as long as you use the A&E for the serious, not sure stuff you are covered.
South Africa is one country in the world where you don't use Government run health facilities as that is a chance I will not gamble. I have visited friends in these places before and from lifts not working properly to finding dirty bed linen this is a health risk on it's own.
We talk about investments and this is one investment that you cannot avoid as you are investing in yourself giving you the best chance of staying healthy. Wherever I move to next year private medical will be part of the budget as it is a must have in my book wherever you are. if you have a problem get it fixed and move on. I know someone in the UK using the NHS (not private) who had virtually the same problem as what I just experienced and they were placed on a waiting list for 3 weeks before they had the operation.
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I think even if the US was finally in the position to get around and offer some form of reasonable healthcare I would still pay for something on my own to supplement it. I am actually finally in a place where I am really happy with my health insurance. We have a high deductible plan but we also have an HSA. That HSA has been amazing plus it offers me the opportunity to invest the portion of the funds I am not using.
We are so tired of getting messages from our medical aid, "No funds in savings" and due to my condition our funds are depleted by midyear. Even though my latest operation was done via the A&E, they still sent us a bill for a part payment.
Medical aid in South Africa is not cheap and half of my salary is used to pay it every month. A friend said that he rather puts an amount in an investment every month and now after 5 years of saving, he can pay any amount to a private hospital for treatment, plus his investment will continue to grow as he simply deposits the same amount monthly into it.