Your child has been up all night with a sore ear. You want to take her to a doctor, but you are worried about the cost of the consultation and medication. Prepaid healthcare vouchers might be just the answer. From only R300, you can visit a GP and get medicine for an acute illness – that’s a 40% saving on what you might pay for a normal GP visit! We investigated prepaid healthcare to find out exactly how it works, what you get, and whether it’s right for you.
The basics: what is prepaid healthcare?
Launched in 2020 by Netcare and Discovery, prepaid healthcare is designed to make basic healthcare more affordable and accessible. Prepaid healthcare works in the same way as prepaid airtime and data – you buy a voucher and use it to pay for a service, in this case a GP consultation. Some vouchers also include medication for an acute illness. An acute illness is a short, once-off illness, such as an ear infection or flu. This is different to a chronic illness which requires ongoing medical attention, such as diabetes.
How it works
You buy a voucher: When you pay for the voucher you receive a code or voucher on your phone that you can use to pay the GP.
You book a consultation: Not all doctors accept vouchers, you need to book at a doctor who is in the prepaid network.
You visit the GP: Use your voucher to pay for the consultation.
Vouchers – what you get and what they cost
|Discovery||GP Voucher + Meds||R300||Face to face GP consultation and certain medication prescribed for an acute illness|
|Netcare||GP Voucher||R350||Face to face GP consultation|
|Netcare||GP Voucher + Medication||R430||Face to face GP consultation and certain medication prescribed for an acute illness|
|Netcare||Virtual GP Voucher||R290||Virtual video GP consultation from your smartphone or computer|
Where to buy vouchers
You can buy Discovery vouchers on their app or at retailers such as Ackermans, Pep and Checkers, at petrol stations and from Flash Traders, who are often located at spaza shops. Visit their website for more details.
Netcare vouchers can be purchased online here.
What’s not covered?
- Medication for a chronic condition: a chronic condition is permanent or long-term, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- Expensive medication: vouchers that include medication for an acute illness may have a limit on the price of medication they cover, such as R100. If your medication costs more than this, you will have to pay the extra amount
- Investigations: blood tests, scans, x-rays and other investigative procedures
- Specialist consultations: for example, a referral to an orthopaedic surgeon or ENT specialist
What you need to know before you buy!
- Anyone can use prepaid healthcare vouchers – you don’t have to be on a medical aid, although you will need to register on the Discovery Prepaid Health app in order to buy a Discovery prepaid voucher
- You have to use a prepaid network GP. If you visit a GP who is not contracted in the network of prepaid healthcare providers, you will pay a normal fee and won’t be able to redeem your voucher. The network of GPs is quite wide, so you do have some choice if you are in a major urban area. You can find GPs who accept the Discovery voucher here and search for GPs who accept Netcare vouchers here
- You must book an appointment. If you have a Netcare voucher, contact the Netcare call centre on 0860 101 151 to book an appointment. If you have a Discovery Prepaid voucher you need to book an appointment with your chosen GP
- Vouchers expire after three years – and once you have bought a voucher you cannot get a refund
So, is prepaid right for you?
This system might be good for you if:
- You are not on a medical aid and want to visit a GP
- Your medical aid benefits are used up and you have run out of medical savings
- You are on a hospital plan and need to visit a GP for an illness other than a prescribed minimum benefit, which you are covered for on a hospital plan.
- You want to pay for a friend, family member, colleague or employee’s doctor’s visit. You can share Discovery prepaid vouchers and gift Netcare vouchers
Save on medical costs
Prepaid healthcare vouchers go some way towards making private healthcare more affordable. So next time your child has an ear infection, or you have the flu, you know you can get the expert medical advice and the medication you need to ease the symptoms – without worrying about what the cost might be.
You can find more ideas on how to save on your family’s healthcare costs here.