If you're planning to fall pregnant, choosing the right medical aid for you and your baby is just one of the many things you need to think about. It's important to stress the "planning to fall pregnant" part, because once you're pregnant and don't yet have a medical aid or hospital plan, you'll struggle to find a medical aid that will cover your pregnancy.
To help you find the right plan, we've compared the costs and maternity benefits of nine of South Africa's top medical schemes. We look at some of their entry-level, mid-range and top-end plans. Of course there are many other plans, and companies, but this should give you a bench mark.
We did not factor in hospital plans here, only medical aids (which has a hospital plan component plus a savings pocket).
Disclaimer: This article is not meant to replace professional financial brokerage advice, but rather to highlight some common medical scheme costs and benefits. Always read the fine print and ensure you ask the right questions about your maternity benefits before you sign. Information was correct at the time of publishing, March 2016.
Entry-level plans are often aimed at students, lower-income families or young professionals starting out on their own and joining a medical scheme for the first time. These plans have lower monthly premiums, but expect you to use specific hospitals and doctors (the scheme's network). There may be other limits as well, like fewer antenatal consultations, no funding for antenatal classes and no cover for elective c-sections.>
These plans are often called "standard", "classic" or "flagship" plans and cater for families who want comprehensive in-hospital and out-of-hospital cover. Usually, these options allow you to use any private hospital (though they may offer network options at lower costs).
Many medical schemes also have premier or elite plans, which cost more than the mid-range options and may come with extra benefits. In terms of maternity benefits, however, there's often not a huge difference between these mid-range and premier options.