/ 13 October 2010

Why a medical aid is a necessity

Last week a good family friend had a household accident. He fell off a ladder and broke his shoulder blade. Apparently this is one of the most painful breaks imaginable.

Seven months earlier he had changed jobs and his new position did not include medical cover. He just hadn’t got round to sorting it out and was quite frankly happy to have the extra R1 000 in his bank account each month.

Because he did not have medical cover, the private hospital he was rushed too refused to admit him until he had paid a R47 000 deposit upfront.

For anyone this is a large amount of money and even if you have it, it is not just hanging around your bank account. It is usually locked away in a notice notice account or you would need to draw down from your mortgage.

This all takes time, painful, agonising time. After five hours the money was available and he was finally admitted. His total hospital bill came to R5 000 — an amount he could have paid easily enough but at the time no one, himself included, knew what he was in for.

He was lucky this time. There may have been MRI’s and scans and emergency operations. That lapse of seven months could have cost him his home.

A basic hospital plan would have taken all that financial worry away — a grudge purchase when you don’t need it, but invaluable when you do.

Of course he is very angry with the hospital for not first admitting him and then assessing his injuries before demanding payment, and it would seem that the hospital was unnecessarily draconian in its attitude.

But judging from other people’s experiences is seems that hospitals across the board have implemented this policy.

Apparently there are far too many people who abscond without settling their accounts which has resulted in hospitals becoming militant about payment before services.

In this imperfect world where good medical care comes at a cost, medical insurance has to be one of the first priorities in your budget.

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