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Navigating Costly Healthcare in South Africa 

by Tia

Escalating healthcare costs pose a formidable challenge for medical schemes, their members and the public healthcare system. Constantly increasing medical scheme rates, coupled with high medication costs, consultation fees, and expenses linked with in-person visits, create a healthcare divide, denying many the timely medical attention they desperately need. 

Over the past decade, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) in South Africa has noted a concerning trend, with private medical aid schemes consistently raising contributions well above general inflation rates.  

Notably, for 2024, various medical aid schemes announced significant increases, with Medihelp leading at 15.97%, Discovery at 7.5%, Momentum at 9.6%, and Bonitas at 6.9% (Source: News24).  

These escalations, influenced by economic factors like medical inflation, the rising cost of living, and increasing petrol prices, raise many concerns, with some schemes observing that younger members, especially those facing the challenges of the rising cost of living, are opting to leave medical schemes and prioritising immediate living expenses.   

According to Statista, at the end of 2022, over 52 million South Africans were dependent on public health care. That’s more than 80% of our population.  

“Given the heavy load on South Africa’s public healthcare system, it is crucial, now more than ever, to explore innovative solutions that can provide patients with quality, accessible basic healthcare,” says Annie Gwerengwe, Founder and Managing Director of leading telehealth provider, Zarcare.  

“Telehealth, as a transformative force, holds the potential to bridge the gap and make healthcare more inclusive, with technology standing as our ally in the pursuit of accessible and convenient health services. And given the continuous technological advancements, telehealth has become a growing consideration for many South Africans seeking convenient and affordable healthcare solutions.”

Telehealth offers healthcare services through digital communication, bringing many advantages that can revolutionise the healthcare landscape in South Africa. One of its primary benefits is the reduction of costs associated with physical infrastructure. Unlike traditional healthcare, telehealth eliminates the need for expansive clinics and hospital facilities, allowing for a more efficient and cost-effective delivery of services. Through remote consultations and digital prescriptions, telehealth platforms alleviate the financial strain on individuals while contributing to a more sustainable healthcare system. 

“Telehealth, with its potential to bridge gaps and enhance inclusivity, stands as a necessary ally in our mission for accessible and convenient health services. By fostering collaboration between healthcare providers and technology experts, we can unlock the full potential of telehealth, paving the way for a healthier future for South Africans,” concludes Gwerengwe.

For more information, please visit Zarcare’s website at www.zarcare.com

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