Majority of South African medical aid schemes offer a medical savings account (MSA) to clients. This is where your own money is kept aside by your medical aid provider in order to pay for day-to-day medical expenses. However, when this money runs out, you enter what is known as a self-payment gap where you are on your own and need to start paying out of your own pocket until this gap is finished.

None of us really want to enter our self-payment gap, which is why we have put together a few tricks to help you stretch your MSA safety net a bit further.

Use your own money to pay for over-the-counter medication

Over-the-counter medication include medicines that you don’t need a script from your doctor for such as nurofen, valoid, buscopan etc. If you do fall ill and your doctor prescribes one of these types of medication, over and above an antibiotic, rather only put the antibiotic through medical aid and pay cash for the rest of the medication. Don’t forget that pharmacies charge a dispensing fee for providing medication on scripts which means you will pay more for the over-the-counter medicine than you would have if you just paid cash.

Make sure your chronic medication is registered

If you take regular medication to treat a chronic illness such as migraines, diabetes, depression etc. make sure it is registered with your medical schemes chronic medication benefit. If your medicine is covered by this benefit, the money will not come out of your MSA; the medical aid pays. If your doctor has prescribed a medication that is not on this list, find out if there is a generic, or a similar type of medicine that will be covered and ask your doctor to change your medicine.

Choose your doctors wisely

Not all doctors will charge you medical aid rates which means that your full doctors bill will not be paid by your medical aid. Shop around and find a doctor with the lowest rates so that you wont have to pay any shortfalls.

Avoid the doctor if you can

You may have found a doctor who charges medical aid rates, but what is the point of going to them for every rash, scratch or ailment? Pharmacists are a wealth of knowledge so when your flu or rash is not a major emergency, rather turn to your local pharmacist for assistance. Also, most pharmacies, such as Dischem, have qualified nurses who can do simple tests and give injections at a quarter of the price.

Look after yourself

This may just be the most important point because the key to good health is looking after yourself. Eat the right foods, exercise and stay as healthy as possible because at the end of the day, this is a great way to avoid using your medical savings account.