As a student, you may not be thinking about any illnesses and injuries that may befall you. After all, you are young, fit and healthy, so why should you have a hospital plan or medical aid on your radar? However, you cannot see what is just around the corner which is why having a hospital plan in place is so important for students. You might be thinking, then, ‘why not just take out a medical aid?’ well outlined below are just some of the reasons why a hospital plan is best for students.

It is affordable

Comprehensive medical aid is an expense that many South Africans cannot afford, especially on a student budget. While a comprehensive plan will cover you for GP consults or for a condition that requires ongoing treatment, at a younger age, an affordable hospital plan might be all that you need for your medical requirements. The worst possible scenario is ending up in hospital after an injury or accident, believing that you are covered for the operation you need, only to find out that you are left in the lurch. Hospital plans in South Africa will cover you for most serious operations, and you will pay only an affordable monthly fee for this cover. You will need to ensure that you take out gap cover to cover any shortfalls of your hospital plan.

It will suit your medical needs

Your medical needs should be considered before you take out either a medical aid or a hospital plan. If you are healthy, fit and unlikely to have high ongoing day-to-day costs, then a hospital plan is best suited for you. However, if you have other medical needs then you should not ignore these in favour of affordability. You will also need to note that you cannot take out a hospital plan when you become ill, it is a measure that is designed to help with emergencies and operations. You will also incur a ‘late joiner’s fee’ and will have a waiting period to treat any pre-existing conditions. Hospital plans may not require a full physical examination but this can help you to discover if you have any underlying conditions that may need treating.

Hospital plans cover basics and more

A hospital plan does offer hospital cover should you be in an accident or require surgery, but many also offer day-to-day coverage for doctor’s visits and chronic medication should you need it. The basics are important for students who may need hospitalisation but if you become ill, then it is great to have the perk of being able to visit a doctor. It is important to remember that you will be limited to a certain network of doctors, depending on the hospital plan you choose, and that if you visit a doctor outside of this network then you will need to pay a consulting fee, usually of either R50 to R150 per visit. It is ideal for a smaller budget, such as what students usually work with but can become costly if you continue to use hospitals or doctors outside of your network.

You do not have to wait at a government hospital

While a government hospital is great for those who cannot afford any health cover, a hospital plan allows you, as a student, access to private hospitals on their network. This means that you will not have to wait to be treated and will be met with prompt service. Government hospitals do have their benefits, as many of their procedures are more affordable and you can receive good care, the private sector will often be able to perform more complicated procedures. You will also save yourself the time that was spent waiting in a hospital waiting room that could be spent focusing on studies.

Allows lower incomes access to medical care

As a student you are most likely not earning much, if any money, and need to consider cheaper options for your financial decisions. Because a hospital plan is affordable, with a lower income you will be able to access health and medical care without having to stress too much about your budget. A lower income or a small monthly stipend from your parents may not go a long way in the student life but you can use it to invest in something important, such as a hospital plan. Many hospital plans will pay out regardless of whether you choose to go to a public or private hospital, but you have the advantage of choice if you have even the minimum amount of cover from your plan. Having to suffer through a chronic illness or live through an accident without any medical cover can be debilitating during a time when you are supposed to be living your best life. A hospital plan can help you to alleviate medical problems, even on a student budget.