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Long-term healthcare important

17 May 2006 Elizabeth Senger

Its high time the public managed their medical aid cover with the same priority and commitment as they plan their life insurance, warns John Sherratt, MD of iChoices, authorised financial services provider.

His point is simple: Your healthcare could be dangerously short-changed if you only consider medical aid options when you find yourself in a healthcare crisis. Poor healthcare provision when you need it most is a worryingly common problem.

Sherratt explains, Healthcare insurance should be prioritised, reviewed and factored into your long-term financial plans in the same way that you review your life insurance and investment portfolios. It makes no sense to ensure your family is protected in the event of death, but not in daily living as well. This means looking ahead in terms of your healthcare needs, in order to better determine what cover to take out now.

Just as peoples lifestyles change with time, so too do their healthcare requirements. It makes financial and common sense to plot and plan these changing needs as far in advance as possible. Doing this will enable you to identify the stages of your life that might require less cover, thereby planning your finances more intelligently.

For example, a single young adult with no dependents may opt for only a basic level of medical insurance, such as a hospital plan. While this is a slightly risky choice as day-to-day out-of-hospital costs can easily escalate way out of control, it could suit someone who currently has minimal healthcare requirements.

Sherratt suggests some key points for consideration:

Consider your options for less expensive medical cover when you are young and have no dependents;

You may be better off putting the balance of costs into a finance plan such as unit trusts which would be used to cover medical costs on your retirement. This is the stage of life people least prepare for and being able to supplement the likes of chronic medication and medical costs can ease an enormous burden in your old age;

The medical act states that you need to be offered choice when it comes to medical cover, so ensure you are getting the right cover for the best price if you contribute to compulsory medical aid at work, this might mean speaking to your employer about being offered more than one scheme;

Know what you are covered for you might be paying too much now which will result in not enough cover later; and

At any one time, know what medical benefits you have left.
 
Changing lifestyle and family circumstances should mean re-evaluating the suitability of your medical cover. These changes can and should be planned for, so that you dont fall prey to quick fix cover that may not suit your familys long-term needs.

Insurance short-cuts rarely have your long-term best interests at heart. Healthcare insurance is no exception. Sherratt concludes by urging South Africans to regard their healthcare with the same sense of importance as they do other forms of insurance.

 

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