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Foyer Global Health covers expats’ health in South Africa who are seeking for a private health insurance solution tailored to their needs.
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A high quality of life, landscapes of infinite variety, excellent infrastructure, a welcoming environment… South Africa has much to offer the thousands of expatriates who have settled there for a short stay or for many years. The Rainbow Nation is also home to one of the best healthcare systems on the African continent, with a very dynamic healthcare market.
So, how does the South African health system work? What type of health insurance should you choose for your relocation to South Africa? Here below are some points to guide you through your healthcare journey in the land of the Springboks…
South Africa’s Healthcare System: The Best on the Continent?
South Africa has one of the best healthcare systems on the continent. However, it has been slow to achieve universal health coverage and wide disparities exist in terms of access to healthcare.
A mixed system
The evolving South African healthcare system is mixed: on the one hand, health services are provided by both the public and private sectors; on the other hand, public health insurance exists alongside a rapidly expanding private health insurance sector. In fact, there are more than 80 different medical schemes covering only 26% of the population.
The country is home to nearly 215 private hospitals, divided between two main networks (Mediclinic and Netcare), and more than 400 public hospitals, where the quality of care is generally good.
Foreigners have access to healthcare in both the public and private sectors and can benefit from local public or private health insurance. However, you are not obliged to do so, and, like most expatriates, you can opt for private international insurance.
South Africa has a two-tier healthcare system. Although the government launched a reform initiative in 2017 to create a National Health Insurance Scheme to improve access to care and modernize the public health service, there are still major inequalities between the public and private sectors when it comes to the quality of medical care.
The public health sector in South Africa is too often the subject of criticism and complaints. The reasons are several. The public health sector suffers from a lack of funds, a shortage of health practitioners and an overload of patients (71.5% of the population seeks care in the public sector). In contrast, the rapidly expanding private sector can provide much higher quality services, with modern medical equipment and shorter waiting times. Most health practitioners work in the private sector, where there are more medical specialties available than in public hospitals.
In the public sector, while there are some reputable medical facilities (particularly university hospitals in cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban), the quality of care is very uneven, as is the distribution of health services throughout the country.
Where should you go to seek medical treatment?
The best health facilities include:
- Chris Hani Baragwanath, Soweto
- Busamed Modderfontein, Johannesburg
- Mediclinic Standton, Johannesburg
- Mediclinic Muelmed, Pretoria
- Life Kingsbury Hospital, Cape Town
- B. Aardevlei, Cape Town
- Ahmed Al-Kadi, Durban
- Busamed Hillcrest, Durban
- Mediclinic, Plettenberg Bay
South Africa is one of the pioneers of mobile healthcare. Numerous applications, such as Vula Mobile, allow patients to seek advice from medical practitioners located throughout the country.
How much does healthcare cost in South Africa?
In general, you will have to pay upfront for medical fees in both the public and private sectors.
In the public sector, the cost of health services depends on the socio-economic background of the patient, the number of his/her dependents, the location of the healthcare facility, the level of health care provider and the type of medical treatment. Fees are set by the Uniform Patient Fee Schedule. In the “full-paying” category (which is likely to include most expatriates), out-of-pocket healthcare costs can be high.
In the private sector, medical fees are generally very high compared to the public sector, and without private insurance, the patient must pay the full price.
Health costs certainly vary depending on the sector (public/private), the type of institution, the profile (in the public sector) and the type of procedure.For example, consultations with a general practitioner cost as little as 30 rand (€1.50) in the public sector and about 300 rand (€15) in the private sector. A day of hospitalization costs between 1,000 and 2,000 rand (€50-100) in the public sector and between 2,500 and 20,000 rand (€125-1,000) in the private sector. A cesarean section in a private clinic costs between 14120 and 40000 Rand (700-2000€).
What about local private health insurance?
Netcare, Life Healthcare and Mediclinic are the three primary private insurers in the local private insurance market. They offer a wide range of supplementary health insurance solutions with various prices. Generally, the more you pay, the better is your health coverage.
However, you should be aware of pre-existing condition exclusions, waiting periods and the fact that some policies only work with some doctors in certain networks. What’s more, your local employer is under no obligation to take out private health insurance on your behalf.
Choose international health insurance for your relocation to South Africa
To benefit from flexible, tailor-made cover that guarantees you full coverage with private practitioners, it is strongly recommended that you take out an international health insurance policy for your stay in South Africa.
What are the benefits of Foyer Global Health?
- Expatriate health insurance is our specialty!
- Foyer Global Health offers you an opportunity to be covered for a wide range of healthcare services in South Africa and around the world, including maternity and emergency care.
- You come first at Foyer Global Health: Your needs, your profile, your plan!
- Effective health cover from the first euro you spend, with no upfront payment required
- You get the freedom to choose the doctor/health facility that suits you best
- We offer you digital medical assistance that you can access at any time.