I know and understand the value of a good medical aid. My father is a senior manager at Old Mutual, I know about insuring your life to death (literally and figuratively), insuring anything and everything tangible, and how you can’t put any monetary value on receiving good medical treatment. I get it ok. Totally. BUT with medical aid prices increasing dramatically year on year, while the benefit decreases or stays the same, one has to question how much “aid” we’re getting for our buck.
Granted my company is paying 55% of my monthly instalment, I still feel the amount I’m spending on medical aid is exorbitant for the benefits I am actually using day to day. This year, I can count the number of times we, as a family of four, went to the doctor, on both hands. Other than the doctor, Liam and I went to the dentist once. The rest of my MSA was spent on OTC medication “just because” – on things like head ache tablets, cough syrup, pain and fever meds for the kids and vitamins. Our savings ran out this week, which in itself isn’t bad, with only a month to go before the end of the year (don’t you dare, Murphy’s Law, don’t even think about it). Although MOST and I mean 95% of the families are know, ran out of savings in the first quarter of the year and have been paying cash PLUS their monthly instalment, desperately trying to close the self payment gap. It’s CRAZY!
It’s this time of year when your medical aid starts sending you advisories about next year’s plans and price hikes and I got speaking to some of the moms and dads at work. Many of them have been successfully surviving on a hospital plan WHILE putting away that additional instalment they would have been paying to the medical aid on a higher plan. This means that they pay cash for medicines or doctors visits if and when the need arises from the funds which they are diligently putting away, and in turn are making a huge saving on the months where no medical attention was required. I did a rudimentary tally of our doctor’s visits, including possible medication, added in three specialist visits – all at the cash price and let me tell you, I’d save thousands a year if I did this.
I’m not trying to be a scrooge, putting my kids health at risk because I don’t want to pay Discovery. Not at all. However, in these current economic conditions one has to be savvy, and we need to be looking for ways to cut back in every area. I’m currently looking at hospital plan options; surprisingly you can get a decent hospital plan which gives you access to any hospital nationwide, without huge co-payments at a very reasonable monthly fee.
NOW here’s the crux. How disciplined am I? The saving here is not instant. I will still need to set this money aside for day to day medical expenses AND have enough to cover any specialist visits. Based on our current trend, this is easily doable but who can tell what next year holds? (Or if I won’t spend the money on shoes.) When I look at the amount I am paying every month for medical aid, this would cover doctor’s visits, and the usual meds and then some. When I consider that there are sometimes months when we don’t go to a doctor at all, this would even out the need for a specialist visit, if need be. I mean people are doing it, and saving, so why can’t I get a piece of that pie?
This weekend I am meeting with my Dad to discuss this issue, to get his professional opinion. Of course I have my reservations, without wishing ill health upon my family people do get sick, someone just has to sneeze on your kid and they need an antibiotic. What do you think? What’s your medical aid like? What do you think of the rates versus the benefits? Are you happy? Would you consider this?