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South Africa's Healthcare: What To Know

December 19, 2022
2022-12-19
South Africa offers universal healthcare to all its residents, making it one of the best places for medical tourism. But there's more to it than that. Before deciding to go to this country as a patient in need of treatment—or as a tourist or immigrant—it's imperative you learn more about healthcare here. As you might expect, South Africa's healthcare is more complex than you might think. There are things you ought to find out from the very beginning, such as how to gain access to the system, the option for private health plans, and more.

South Africa's Healthcare: What To Know


Who Can Access Healthcare in South Africa?

South Africa probably has one of the most indiscriminate healthcare systems out there. Since the country operates a universal system, all residents can receive access. It's the same as all the other countries that offer universal healthcare like Canada or France. But South Africa actually takes it even further. In this country, every single person has access to the healthcare system regardless of nationality or immigration status. So even if you're not an official resident of South Africa, you can still get access to its public health system. It's no wonder the country is a popular medical tourist destination.


How is South Africa's Healthcare Subsidized?

With such an open and accessible healthcare system, it makes you wonder just how you can pay for it all, right? Well, according to Expatica, the public system is subsidized by 40% of all costs. They also charge you based on your income and the number of dependents. So if you're a parent of three kids and earning only a little above the minimum wage, your medical costs are likely to be lower than that of a single man who earns six figures a year. Also, a night at a hospital can still cost as high as around R1,000.00 a night if you’re part of the top income bracket.

South Africa's Healthcare: What To Know



What is Health Insurance Like in South Africa?

Although the South African healthcare system is open to all, do note that the country still doesn't have an official public insurance plan in place as of this writing. So on top of the taxes that pay to keep the system afloat, you still have to pay for your medical costs, no matter how subsidized it is. When getting any sort of medical treatment here, you have to pay for it upfront. This also means that if you're looking for any health insurance in South Africa, your best bet is to get a private plan.


What is Private Healthcare Like in South Africa?

The good news is that there are many international health insurance providers that operate in South Africa. From Allianz Care to Cignal Global, you can get the right private plan for you. This also makes it easier for tourists to get medical coverage during their stay in the country. And for those who need to stay in South Africa, either for work or studies, having a private plan with any of these popular providers fulfills their requirements, especially when applying for the right South African visa. Moreover, you'll have access to top-quality hospitals and medical professionals as well.

South Africa's Healthcare: What To Know



How Can You Register for South Africa's Healthcare?

Registering for South Africa's public healthcare system is pretty easy. All you really need is to show identification and most of the time, your valid ID will do. If you're a new resident of South Africa, however, you'll also have to show proof of your residency. Providing your address and showing your immigration papers or even your visa will do the job! Once you have everything settled, you can go to any public hospital and clinic and get well taken care of. Those with private health plans, o the other hand, have access to more hospitals and even medical specialists who work privately.


What are The Different Kinds of Medical Care in South Africa?

It's also worth noting that getting private insurance allows you to access other, more specific kinds of healthcare. For example, there's women's healthcare. The public system still has a lot to work on in this aspect but those in the private sector have it all covered. The latter offers maternity costs, prenatal care, and even antenatal services. Children's healthcare is also well-provided if you have private health insurance. You get access to more pediatric GPs. Though to its credit, the public health sector does offer free vaccinations against polio, tuberculosis, whooping cough, tetanus, and Covid-19.

South Africa's Healthcare: What To Know



What Do You Need to Know About South Africa's Pharmacies?

Now, let's talk about pharmacies in South Africa. Pharmacies are generally easy to access in this country. There are many branches throughout all the regions and cities in South Africa, not to mention those already connected to hospitals and clinics. And now, thanks to technological advancements, mail-order medicine and delivery services are available for the patient's convenience. Moreover, thanks to the fixed prices established by the government, medicine in South Africa are generally affordable. You don't have to spend a fortune to get the medications that you need. But getting a private health plan does give you access to more and higher quality medicine.


What are the Emergency Hotlines in South Africa?

The emergency hotline in South Africa is 112. No matter where you are, whether you can use a landline or only your mobile phone, just dial 112 and you're good to go! Do note that some healthcare providers, especially those in the private sector, have their own emergency hotlines. Make sure to know what they are when you're registering for their plan. Additionally, there are other emergency hotline numbers you ought to know. Dial 10111 for the National Emergency Response. And if you're in need of ambulance services, just dial 10177.

South Africa's Healthcare: What To Know


South Africa's healthcare has a lot to offer. From its easy-to-understand terms to even private health plans, you'd do well to learn all about the system if you intend to relocate and start a new life here!



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