The biggest medical aid schemes in South Africa – and how much they’re charging in 2018

The majority of South Africa’s biggest medical aid schemes have released their prices for 2018, showing below 10% increases across all plans.

According to the latest statistics released by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), there are currently 82 medical aid schemes operating in South Africa with a total subscription of just under 8.9 million members as at December 2016.

Discovery remains the largest medical aid scheme in the country, with over 2.7 million members.

This is followed by the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) with 1.8 million members, and the Bonitas Medical Fund, with just under 680,000 members.

Due to the nature of medical aids, and how each scheme is structured to cater for different hospital networks and cover different medical needs, it’s incredibly difficult to compare like for like, especially on price.

However, with all medical aids now releasing their contribution structures for 2018, the tables below outline the price changes among the biggest* (open) schemes for next year.

The biggest medical aid schemes in South Africa

Scheme Members
Discovery 2 707 000
GEMS 1 801 000
Bonitas 676 785
PolMed 497 130
Momentum Health 257 370
BankMed 214 305
BestMed 200 400
MediHelp 195 860
MedShield 153 415
LA-Health 147 780

For 2018, medical aids have mostly kept their rate increases within range of the medical aid industry inflation rate (inflation plus 3%), with few plans going over the 9% estimate.

Discovery’s rates have been hiked at an average of 7.9%, and Bonitas at an average of 8.7%.

Momentum Health is yet to publish its pricing for 2018, but has announced that prices for its medical aid plans will be hiked by an average of 8.3% in 2018.

In 2017, medical aids were forced to hike rates by over 10%, following a rise in medical costs and an increase in the number of fraudulent claims.

Over the past decade and half, the average year-on-year increase of medical scheme contributions has been 7.6% – almost 2 percentage points higher than CPI, on the basis of rising medical costs.


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