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Why you need critical illness cover even if you are a medical aid member

By Shawna Moosa-Kivido, Senior Specialist – Risk, Liberty Group Ltd

Private healthcare in South Africa is not cheap. Those who can afford to belong to a medical aid scheme spend a lot of money each month to ensure that when a family member needs it, they can afford the best treatment possible. But is it enough?  

Your medical aid may provide dentistry benefits. It may provide you with more than enough medical savings to visit a GP regularly, if necessary. But if you fall seriously ill, perhaps a cancer diagnosis, would your medical aid cover everything? You can’t be 100% sure, right?  

A serious illness can strike at any time and keep you away from work for an extended period. At first your employer might be sympathetic, but soon you might receive a less sympathetic letter from the Human Resources department.  

To make matters worse, your medical aid might be watching the bills closely, ready to decline claims because you reached your benefit limits.   

A quick online survey on medical aid costs and benefits showed a leading medical scheme’s premier medical aid plan costs a staggering R6,000 per month for a single member contribution.

You’d think just about any medical claim would be covered at that price. Think again: the annual cancer benefit is limited to approximately R400,000 a year.

That is an allowance of R33,000 per month, which might seem enough to cover treatment costs – until you understand how expensive cancer treatment can be. A mastectomy and access to new immunotherapy drugs can easily cost R500,000.  

A recent article on Moneyweb provided a rough estimate of costs relating to cancer treatment in South Africa. The costs are jaw dropping:    

  • Breast biopsy: R17,000
  • Scans: R30,000
  • Mastectomy: R62,000
  • Reconstructive surgery: R50,000–R140,000
  • Hormonal therapy: R650–R2,500 per month
  • Chemotherapy: R140,000 for six cycles
  • Radiation therapy: R51,000–R112,000 for five to six weeks’ treatment

If you think the odds are in your favour, think again. Statistics from the Cancer Association of South Africa website reinforce the fact that covering yourself isn’t a luxury anymore – it’s a necessity:      

  • Every year, 14-million people around the world hear the words: “You have cancer.”;
  • A quarter of South Africans are diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, or have a loved one, family member, friend or colleague diagnosed with cancer;
  • About 100,000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer every year;
  • Environment and lifestyle factors, including smoking, diet and lack of exercise, cause 90% of all cancers;
  • The cancer survival rate is six out of 10.  

The heart disease stats are as dismal:

  • Approximately 225 South Africans are killed by heart disease every day.;
  • Roughly 45% of South Africans have high blood pressure;
  • About 10 people suffer a stroke in South Africa every hour.  

If you consider the facts, how much critical illness cover do you think you need?  

Critical illness cover is no longer a nice-to-have. You should have a critical illness policy in place even if you belong to a medical aid. You can bolt your critical illness benefit onto your existing life-cover policy.

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Morebo Wealth (Pty) Ltd, an affiliate of Liberty, the Liberty Group Ltd is an authorised Financial Services Provider in terms of the FAIS Act (no. 2409)
Morebo Brokerage (Pty) Ltd is an Authorised Financial Services Provider in terms of the FAIS Act (no. 48360)

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