Do I need a medical aid when I retire?

Retiring is a relief for many. You no longer have to wake up in the early hours of the morning to get ready for work. And the way you spend your time is your own. However, as you age you experience more and more health concerns which can become expensive. Do I need medical aid after I retire? Your budget may seem tight, but below are some of the reasons why you should consider hospital cover for seniors when you retire.

Do I need medical aid – Wishful thinking will not protect you

It is true that you need to fend for yourself during retirement. However, the fact of the matter is that not many South Africans are saving towards it. Even fewer take out important investments, such as a medical aid. Living in the hope that you will remain healthy throughout your retirement years is a naive and dangerous thought.

You may feel that you can rely on your children to care for you in your older years. But this is placing a financial strain on them too. Chronic medication, frail care and hospital visits become expensive, Do I need medical aid during retirementespecially if you are living off of your retirement fund, so having at least hospital cover in place can alleviate these costs.

Do I need medical aid – Chronic diseases are covered

You may have a chronic disease that requires you to take regular medication. These medications can become quite costly if you are unable to find generic versions.  This expense can eat into your savings or retirement fund.

Medical aids and some hospital plans cover chronic diseases in their packages, allowing you to continue taking your essential medications. You may not have enough monthly funds to afford these expenses out of your own pocket. That is where a medical aid is helpful. You will need to check carefully with your provider or broker whether the plan includes cover for your condition. That is because some schemes exclude certain conditions.

Standard rates may still apply

Joining a medical aid scheme or taking out hospital cover after the age of 35 will mean that you incur a hefty ‘late joiners fee’, however, the monthly rates are standard across many medical aids so you will not be paying more for it despite joining late in life.

Do I need medical aid – Later joiner fee

A late joiner fee is not a once off payment but is added to your monthly repayments, which is why taking out medical aid at an early age is much more advisable. If you can provide proof of prior membership at a registered medical aid in South Africa, you could decrease the late joiner fee contribution.

Your children may still rely on you

Reaching retirement age does not necessarily mean that your children have reached adulthood or are not dependent on you. Let’s say you decide not to keep your medical aid scheme when you retire. Well, then it will be difficult to pay for their medical expenses on a pension or savings fund.

If you have adult children who are not working or who are studying, they are eligible to remain as dependents on your medical aid if you can provide proof of this. Cancelling this will mean that they will have to take out their own medical aid or hospital plan. That might not be feasible financially. If your budget is tight, you could ask your children to contribute monthly to the repayments.

Do I need medical aid – Your spouse may depend on you

As you age, your health risks increase, and your spouse may experience health problems when reaching retirement or pensioner age. If you were the sole breadwinner of the family, your spouse will most likely still depend on you for their well-being.

Your spouse can remain on your medical aid as a dependent regardless of their employment status or age, but if you divorce, their rights as a dependent are immediately revoked. However, should your ex-spouse rely on your for financial aid or healthcare, you may be able to keep them on as a dependent once this has been proven. Not having hospital cover or a medical aid could mean that your spouse will not receive the same care they are used to or the care they need in times of emergency.

You will not have to rely on state hospitals

While using a state hospital is no bad thing, relying on one for major surgeries or medical emergencies is not always a viable option. Many state hospital beds are full, and the waiting rooms are usually packed to the brim which makes receiving speedy medical attention difficult.

The growing number of people who rely on state hospitals means that the service delivery will not be as efficient and the availability of medical care will lessen. Getting older may mean that you experience more health issues and having to deal with the added stress of waiting in a state hospital will exacerbate this.

Do I need medical aid – Final verdict

Having a medical aid while retired is important. You may have to provide care for your ailing spouse, or your children may still depend on you financially. These factors, as well as peace of mind that medical emergencies will not drain your finances, should be considered when you reach retirement age.