In South Africa, parallel private and public health care systems exist. The public system serves the vast majority of the population, funded by government it is chronically underfunded and understaffed, while on the other hand the private funded health care system provides state of the art services and facilities at a price of course.
It is really not hard to make a choice as far as private vs. public health care goes. Without a doubt, private health care in South Africa is much preferred to public health care and healthcare facilities are deemed on par with international standards, providing modern equipment with internationally trained staff. In fact expats often describe medical service given in South African private hospitals more personal than what they are used to from Europe’s and America’s big university hospitals.
With one of the best private health-care systems in Africa, South Africa is well-placed to offer expats excellent medical services, and immigrants are strongly encouraged to apply for some kind of local medical insurance. Doing so allows access to a wide range of national services, supported by large hospital groups such as Life Healthcare, International SOS and Medi-Clinic. Immigrants already part of other health insurance programs outside of the country may be able to extend those to include South Africa, in preference to starting a new one.
Medi-Clinic and Life Healthcare are two of South Africa’s largest private hospital groups. Medi-Clinic operates world-wide, managing multidisciplinary hospitals across the globe, 50 of them located in South Africa’s main urban areas. Specialised treatment wards cater for everything from general emergencies to maternity cases, heart and stroke conditions and more. Life Healthcare has a network of 63 private hospitals throughout the country, with specialty units covering cardiac conditions, maternity needs and additional fields.
The costs involved in covering emergency air transportation within the African continent and overseas are very expensive. As such, expats in South Africa are strongly encouraged to obtain some form of South Africa medical insurance, to ensure ease of access to health and medical facilities within South Africa including air transportation and medical evacuation services.
Choose your health insurance carefully before immigrating to South Africa. Take into account all factors, including your current and future health needs, and ensure that you are covered for all essential health care, whether at home, at work, or in transit.
Keep in mind that cancelling your medical aid overseas might prevent you to take out a medical aid package in the future should you want to move back to your home country. Keep in mind taking out a medical insurance in South Africa instead of in your home country has pros and cons. Medical aid in South Africa is generally more expensive than what you are used to from Germany. However, South African medical insurance companies are only able to exclude chronical illnesses and previous injuries for up to a year.
If you’re planning on living, studying or working in South Africa, it’s extremely risky not to take out health insurance. If you are uninsured or under-insured, you could be faced with some high medical bills, so we strongly recommend that you do.