Chances are, you are not happy with the new price of your medical aid for 2019. The good news is that you can change your plan within your scheme on 1 January, with no penalty, so now is the perfect time to evaluate whether you are on the right plan, and take action to save money!

1. Stop paying for all your kids, but still keep them on the medical aid

If you have more than 2 kids, consider moving to a plan that only charges for 2 or 3 children, with the rest free. Medihelp, for example, has Prime 1 Network that will cost you R3,600 for two adults and two or three or four (or more!) children.

2. Use a Network Plan

By limiting your choice of hospitals, you can save up to 25% of your premiums. You can still go to any hospital in an emergency, and you can still choose a plan that has your favourite hospital on its network. As an added benefit, some gap covers pay the penalty for going to a hospital outside your network, so you get the best of both worlds. Discovery Essential Core Delta is an entry level hospital plan that requires network hospitals. We can help you find others.

3. Consider an income-based plan

If you and your spouse make less than about R15,000 (each) per month, you qualify for capitated plans. These are full medical aid plans, but with the premiums adjusted to your income. The lower your income, the lower your premium. These plans often also have generous out-of-hospital benefits, as an added bonus.

We can help you find the right capitated plan for your needs.

4. Don’t pay for benefits you don’t need

Move to a plan that only covers the in-hospital at 100% scheme rate and take a gap cover to make up the difference. Usually, you come out way ahead by choosing a lower plan with a gap, than a higher plan with no gap.

If you are not planning on having (more) kids, don’t choose a plan that is strong on maternity and childcare benefits. We can review your needs vs your benefits for you, fo free.

5.Get a full review of your needs vs your benefits

Ask your broker to assess your needs vs your plan’s benefits. If you don’t have a broker, we can do that for you, for free. Since we work with all the open plans, we are able to suggest the most viable and responsible options for your family. Our services don’t cost you a cent.

6. Split your family across different plans

If you have one member with extensive medical needs, you might put him or her on a higher plan, and move everyone else to a lower plan. You could still only pay one gap cover, if applicable, even if you’re on different plans.

This also applies to students, who could move away from their parents high-end plan, and move to a student friendly plan at a fraction of the cost. Medihelp has a medical aid plan for students starting at R529, for example.

Splitting families can save you thousands, but can get quite technical. Speak to your broker or to us.

7. Or move a split family onto one plan

Conversely to number 6 above, if you are paying for a medical aid membership for people who are financially reliant on you (your parents, for example), it might be cheaper to move them to your plan. This needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

8. Check your late joiner penalties!

We can’t say enough about this. If you are paying a Late Joiner Penalty, have it evaluated by someone who knows what they are doing. We regularly find people are overpaying their LJPs by R1000s per year. We can help you figure this out. Seriously, speak to us if you have a Late Joiner Penalty, even if you have a broker.

9. Keep your savings to yourself

Choose a hospital plan over a savings plan, and put the difference every month into your bond or credit card debt. If you need the savings at some stage, you simply pull them out of your credit card/bond instead of the medical aid’s saving account. The claim benefits stay exactly the same, but you get a proper rate of interest while you don’t need the money.

This only works if you are financially responsible to actually save the extra money, and if you can float your out-of-pocket expenses for some months in case you have a medical emergency early in the year. There are various options around this, speak to us.

10. Check those PMBs!

Make sure that your chronic and other out-of-hospital bills that are PMBs are paid for by the scheme and not by you. Where applicable, use the scheme’s contracted doctors to minimise out of pocket expenses, especially for PMBs.

Need help with your medical aid? rehealth.co.za allows you to compare all 250+ open medical schemes with each other, helps you choose the best one for you and saves you money. We bring clarity to the complicated world of medical aid, and it doesn’t cost you an extra cent.

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