Retiring to South Africa: Medical Aid in South Africa

medical aid in south africaAs we age, medical facilities and access to treatment becomes increasingly important. That’s why Intergate will be looking at medical aid in South in Africa in our final Retiring to South Africa article.

South African healthcare

South Africa does not have a national health scheme, although a National Health Insurance (NHI) plan has been in the works for some time.

Instead of a national scheme, South Africa have privately-owned medical aid schemes (commonly referred to as ‘medical aid’) that give members access to private hospitals.

South Africa also have a number of public hospitals, equipped to deal with any illness or emergency. Unfortunately, public hospitals in South Africa are often under-staffed and under-resourced.

This makes private hospitals the preferred choice for many South Africans. This is despite the fact that private care is more expensive than public healthcare.

Your medical aid options

There are numerous scheme options when it comes to medical aid in South Africa. Five of the more prominent schemes are:

Whichever scheme you decide on, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of options within each scheme.

Options range from:

  • Basic hospital plans – that only cover you while in hospital


  • High-end plans – that pay for out-of-hospital expenses including doctors, dentists, certain specialists and medication.

On top of this, all medical aid schemes in South Africa are required by law to cover the Prescribed Minimum Benefits.

What are Prescribed Minimum Benefits? This is a list of conditions and situations that are to be paid in full as these are usually emergency or life saving procedures. PMBs also includes cover for elective surgery that is not necessarily life threatening, but has been recommended by a GP or specialist.

Trying to understand all the information on medical aid schemes can be difficult and confusing, so we recommend speaking to a medical aid broker.

Quick questions:

How do you register with a doctor or dentist in South Africa?

All you have to do is call to make an appointment. You’ll complete a registration form at the time of your appointment. This will be kept on file. You are under no obligation however to stay with the particular doctor or dentist should you want to use another one.

What does it typically cost to visit your doctor?

Prices vary, but it is usually between R250 and R400 for a consultation. Specialists will charge more.

What is the main difference between obtaining medical aid from a local provider as opposed to an overseas one?

Mostly the cost factor. Overseas cover comes at a far higher price. That said, the overseas cover is likely to cover more than South African options. You’ll have to decide which option suits your pocket best.

Didn’t catch the rest of our Retiring to South Africa series?

If you missed the previous articles in this series, you can now read all of them here:

Retiring to South Africa: South African Retirement Visa Requirements.

Retiring to South Africa: Your Pension.

Retiring to South Africa: Retirement Villages in South Africa.