As a non-South African citizen, you are probably wondering if you qualify for medical aid in South Africa- especially if you are a foreigner planning on living in South Africa for a longer period of time. The good news is, you may be entitled to join a medical aid scheme. If you are in a serious accident or develop a medical condition, seeking medical attention could become quite costly. In this article, we break down who can qualify for medical aid and any general exclusions and waiting periods you will face when applying.
Who qualifies for medical aid and what benefits are you entitled to?
If you are a foreigner, most of the schemes will allow you to join if you have a South African banking account that you can use to pay for your cover. This can even include someone else having an account to assist in paying the cover your cover out of that account.
Another provision to be aware of is you need to make sure that you hold a valid passport and hold a current working, student or residence visa.
If you are only here on a holiday, you would have to look at your travel insurance to cover any medical costs while you are in South Africa.
The types of benefits you will have access to are exactly the same as if you were a South African citizen and the cover would be dependent on the plan that you opt for. There are two major categories of medical aid, namely a comprehensive option and a hospital plan.
If anything is unclear, make sure that you speak to an intermediary at the medical aid schemes that you are looking for quotes from, to make sure that you get the best cover to suit your needs.
Exclusions and waiting periods
All new members to many medical aid schemes may be subject to a specific waiting period and/or exclusions which would be outlined in the terms and conditions of the medical aid scheme. A waiting period would mean that after joining a medical aid scheme, you won’t be eligible for cover until the waiting period is over. This is the case for most South Africans as well and is no way discriminatory to a person foreign to South Africa.
If you have a pre-existing condition prior to signing up, you may not be entitled to benefits for at least the first year of the membership.
Double check the option benefits or exclusions with an intermediary who is authorised to give advice, or with the medical aid scheme directly.
Medical Gap Cover Questions & Queries
You can also consider Gap Cover, which covers in-hospital shortfalls, where the medical aid plan may not cover these costs in full.
Medical Aid for Foreigners in South Africa