South Africa Medical Insurance
One of South Africa’s major public health concerns is equal access to health care facilities for all citizens across the country. There is currently a division among the population, between those who can afford private health insurance and receive state-of-art services, and others who depend on the public health system and endure long waiting lines and receive relatively basic medical treatment. South African Private healthcare facilities are deemed on par with international standards, providing modern equipment with internationally trained staff.
As well as inequality in accessing adequate healthcare, South Africa's population is struggling with one of the highest epidemics of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the world, as well as diabetes and smoking-related diseases. In response to these concerns, the South African Government is undergoing a healthcare transformation, including the endorsement of a health care reform that aims to expand access to healthcare facilities and improve health promotion initiatives. There is also emphasis on the Government’s aim to improve the regulation of health service providers, occupational health compensation, and health insurance policies.
The private health care system in South Africa is renowned for its state-of-the-art services and ranked as the best country to receive private medical care within the African continent. Expats in South Africa therefore opt for private healthcare services managed by large hospital groups including Medi-Clinic, Life Healthcare, and International SOS. Expats in South Africa are strongly encouraged to obtain some form of South Africa private medical insurance, to ensure ease of access to private healthcare services within the country.
For booked admissions at private hospitals in South Africa, expat patients must obtain a letter of guarantee, issued by their health insurance company on or before admission to hospital. In the event of an emergency, expat patients will receive immediate care but will remain liable for the claim until a letter of guarantee is issued. Expat patients who requite outpatient services, generally pay with cash and will be provided a receipt for reimbursement from their insurer.
Medi-Clinic is one of the largest private hospital groups in the world, managing multidisciplinary hospitals worldwide including 50 hospitals located in urban areas throughout South Africa, including Johannesburg and Cape Town. Medi-Clinic hospitals have specialized treatment areas including emergency, maternity, heart and stroke units. Life Healthcare manages 63 private hospitals within South Africa, including 35 maternity facilities, comprehensive cardiac care units and other specialty departments. Life Healthcare hospitals are located in South Africa's most populated cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
The International SOS Clinic has an emergency alarm centre located in Johannesburg for expats living in South Africa. In the event of an emergency, patients can contact the alarm centre to speak to an International SOS staff member, 24 hours a day, all days of the year. The emergency evacuation teams are experienced and provide air and land transportation services within any location of the African continent, as well as repatriation services if required.
The costs involved in covering emergency air transportation within the African continent and overseas are very expensive. As such, expats in South Africa are strongly encouraged to obtain some form of South Africa medical insurance, to ensure ease of access to health and medical facilities within South Africa including air transportation and medical evacuation services.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious problem in South Africa, especially within the Western Cape Province where the city of Cape Town is located. TB is spread from person to person and is easily detected, treated and cured. Problems associated with TB in South Africa are further compounded by the high HIV/AIDS prevalence among the population, due to the impact of HIV/AIDS on the human immune system.
South Africa accounts for approximately 67 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Around 5.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, ranking the highest country worldwide in that regard. Prevalence of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, on average, is higher among the female population. Prevalence by age group is highest among males aged between 30 and 34, and females between 25 and 29 years. Many factors contribute to the spread of HIV including poverty and social instability; the low status of women and sexual violence; migrant workers who have multiple sex partners while working away from home; and overall mismanagement of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in earlier years.
In terms of street safety, expats living in South Africa need to practice high level of caution due to the high level of serious crime. Muggings, armed robbery as well as murders and rape are common in some areas of South Africa. The inner suburbs of Johannesburg including Berea and Hillbrow, and the beachfront in Durban are particularly prone to higher levels of crime. Expats should also be cautious while traveling by car due to the high frequency of carjackings in South Africa.
To call an ambulance service within South Africa dial 1-0-1-7-7; police department dial 1-0-1-1-1; or fire brigade dial 1-0-1-7-7.
For emergency services within South Africa, expats should contact the International SOS Alarm Centre located within Johannesburg on +27 (0)11 541 1300.