5 questions growing families should ask when choosing medical aid

It’s all very well flying by the seat of your (jean) pants when you’re part of a newly romantic couple. Let’s face it: as you stare into each other’s eyes across the dinner table, medical aid and things like insurance are probably not top of mind.

But once you decide that he or she is the one and you start building a life together, there may come a time when you start to think about expanding your little family.

It’s at this stage that you begin to realise how important your health is, as well as the health of your future children. You want the best for them, so how do you make sure the medical aid package you choose is right for you and your growing family?

“It’s worth thinking about medical aid a few years before you’re ready to have kids, so that you’re not affected by any waiting periods.”

Here are 5 questions you need to ask:

  1. Look at your family history. How healthy are you and your partner and are there any genetic diseases that you may inherit later on in life, or that may affect your children? Conditions such as diabetes, asthma or epilepsy may require regular check-ups, medication or even hospitalisation, so you should see if your medical aid plan would cover any related costs. Even if there aren’t any chronic conditions in your family, a full family medical history is always useful.
  2. What can you afford? Draw up a budget with your partner and list absolutely everything in it: your monthly cell phone spend, that yoga membership, your grocery bills. Work out what you can afford each month for medical aid and cut down on non-essential costs (like your soy lattes) if you need to.If you can only afford a hospital plan, then choose the most comprehensive one you can afford, bearing in mind you’ll need to save a little each month to pay for things like medicines or doctors’ visits.
  1. What about the birth? Childbirth may be one of the costliest medical procedures you’ve had to date (if you plan on using a private hospital). Leading up to the birth, there will be multiple screenings and visits to the gynaecologist, all which cost money.Whether you have a natural birth or Caesarean, you will need to pay the hospital, as well as the specialists who treat you such as your gynae, anaesthetist or paediatrician. Some specialists charge more than what your scheme will pay for a certain procedure (known as the scheme’s pay out rate), so you’ll need to cover any shortfalls. This is where gap cover is a good idea.
  2. What is the scheme’s waiting period? Most medical aids have a waiting period attached, where you won’t be covered for a certain period of time after you join their scheme (10 months or a year, for example). This prevents people from only signing up for medical aid cover when they find out they’re sick, or when they know they’ll need a planned procedure in the near future.Maternity benefits are essential to help cover extensive pregnancy and birth costs and it’s worth thinking about medical aid a few years before you’re ready to have kids, so that you’re not affected by any waiting periods.Some plans, like Fedhealth’s new flexiFED options, are specially designed for those starting families or people with young families, and offers focused maternity benefits, unlimited hospital cover, a dentistry benefit, access to a 24-hour nurse line and much more.
  3. Do you need day-to-day cover? While you may be bursting with good health right now, what about when that little person enters your lives? As they build up their immune systems they’ll bring all manner of germs into your house, so it won’t be only them with the latest tummy bug, but you too!Besides having to cover the cost of day-to-day visits to the doctor, you’ll also need pay for their vaccinations, check-ins with a midwife or paediatrician, costly medication like antibiotics when they need them, as well as things like eye and hearing tests.

Many medical aid plans also come with the option of a medical savings account (MSA) attached, where you can access a portion of money per year for these day-to-day expenses. Others, like Fedhealth’s new MediVault offering, allow you to “borrow” a certain amount of money from the scheme to cover these expenses, and then pay it back interest-free over 12 months.

Starting a family is just the beginning of a new stage in your life where you’ll have to make hundreds of decisions every day about what you think is best for your children. By making the right decisions about their healthcare well before they’ve arrived, you’ll be putting your best foot forward into this exciting new chapter.

Also read:

New parent? Here’s your financial checklist
So, your birth didn’t go according to plan? Don’t blame yourself.

SOURCECollated by Belinda Mountain for Fedhealth
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