Healthcare for Expats in South Africa

South Africa is a popular travel destination for tourists and expatriates alike. This vibrant country that was once under the oppression of apartheid, is blessed with abundant natural beauty and varied cultures. This diversity is what leads to it being named the Rainbow Nation. Tourists and expats coming to South Africa can make their trip safe by buying international health insurance from a well-known company. Overview of healthcare options in South Africa for expatriates.

Overview of Healthcare options in South Africa

The healthcare system in South Africa is not like the healthcare systems in other countries. While many of those countries have a centralized healthcare system in place, South Africa has two parallel systems. The public system is mostly government-aided; however, it is mostly underfunded and has lots of people lined up for affordable treatment. The private system mostly serves the middle or high earning families of the country and charges a much higher fee than the public healthcare system.

Expats can also seek treatment from private hospitals since they are better equipped and maintain a high standard of care. Private hospitals in Johannesburg offer the best healthcare on the entire continent. But, because such treatments can be expensive, expats are advised to buy health insurance that covers private hospital visits as well as treatment charges.

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How the South African Healthcare System Works for Expats?

For expatriates, insurers offer many plans for health insurance in South Africa. Some of these plans cover ambulance transport and a few hospitals, while other plans may not cover all kinds of medical expenses. Expats must compare all such available plans and preferably opt for an international insurance plan that covers treatment at private hospitals in South Africa, as well as emergency evacuation when needed. The insurance charges may vary depending upon the number of dependent family members moving with the expat, and how much the expat earns.

Public Healthcare in South Africa

As many as 80% of South Africans utilize the public healthcare system whenever required. However, due to the shortage of adequate resources and funding, public hospitals lack the latest medical equipment and highly educated staff that’s available in private hospitals. The public hospital staff members are overworked, and there are always long queues of patients waiting for treatments. Moreover, public hospitals are not managed properly, which is why expats may not find these facilities convenient.

Private Healthcare in South Africa

Close to 20% of the South Africans who earn better than the rest avail medical treatment at private hospitals. Most of the private hospitals are based in major cities only, while there are no private clinics or hospitals in rural areas. The medical costs can add up to a hefty amount quickly, which is why expats must obtain a private health insurance plan. These plans help them in having easy access to medical assistance, repeat consultations, and specialist treatment without worrying about the charges at all.

Medicines and Pharmacies

Pharmacies in cities are adequately stocked with all kinds of medications but Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 medicines are easily available over the counter. Those who live in or are traveling to rural areas may be able to find basic medications only. Expats are suggested to pack all essential medications before traveling to remote or rural areas and bring a record of the prescription.

Emergency Services in South Africa

Expats can call for medical assistance in this country by calling the following numbers:

  • Public ambulance services: 10177
  • Netcare 911 (private emergency medical care): 082911
  • ER24 (private emergency medical care): 084124

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats in South Africa

Despite covering somewhere around 20% of the country’s population, private hospitals in South Africa collect more than half of the country’s healthcare budget. The benefits associated with private healthcare, such as better treatment, access to the country’s best doctors, better standard of care and shorter waiting time; make it a lucrative option for citizens and expats alike. Expats can procure international health insurance to manage all kinds of medical expenses and not worry about handling such charges themselves.

For adequate expat healthcare in South Africa, you can consider the health insurance plans offered by leading global insurance companies like Cigna and Allianz Care. Expats should compare the available plans, coverage, and benefits of such plans before making their final choice when living in South Africa. Contact us for more information.

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