Can Students Apply for a Medical Aid?

As a student, you have different needs to others including your medical needs. You may feel as though you are fit and healthy but anything could happen at any time, which is why you should look into having a medical aid.

There are several schemes in South Africa which offer affordable rates for students, and some which are geared specifically towards students. Below is some advice on any questions you may have.

What type of medical aid is more suitable for your needs?

You may be thinking, “How much can I pay for medical aid?” and the answer to this question is to consider which option is the best for your needs. You will need to consider your age, your general state of health and well-being and who will be responsible for the contributions each month.

If you have not yet turned 18 years of age, the only option under South African law is to be listed as a dependent of the  main member. This cover will be valid until you reach 26 years of age, or whatever age the medical scheme sees as ‘adult’. If you are over 18 but are not a dependent, then the best option is to choose a hospital plan. These schemes offer comprehensive hospital cover as well as some day-to-day cover. If you have a chronic condition, however, you may need to look at a medical aid.

What documents do I need to apply?

All medical aid schemes will require you to fill out a form with your details and personal information in order for them to give you a quote for a scheme. You will have to fill out an online form and provide supporting documents for your application, as outlined below.

  • A certified copy of your Identification Document
  • Proof of registration at a recognised tertiary institution
  • Three months of bank statements or a relevant payslip if you are employed

Upon receipt of a completed application form and included documents, a medical aid scheme will send you a ‘counter offer’ letter with an acceptance form detailing the terms and conditions. This is usually valid for 30 days but this time period can depend on the medical aid provider.

What are income based medical aid schemes?

Being someone who earns a low salary or a student does not mean that you cannot have a medical aid. Income-based medical aid schemes offer adjusted rates according to your income, which can be helpful if you are a part-time student earning lower wages.

An income-based medical aid scheme will restrict you to the network’s approved hospital and GP networks, however, so be sure to consider this when you apply. They do offer a variety of benefits, including chronic illness cover and cover of PMBs (prescribed minimum benefits). The monthly fees for  these medical aid schemes are usually highly affordable for students.

What is a hospital plan?

A hospital plan is designed to provide members with quality care at good hospitals in the event of a medical emergency. These plans offer an affordable option for low-income individuals or for those who are in excellent health but who only wish to be covered for emergencies.

Most hospital plans offer more than just hospital cover, they offer benefits such as MRI and CT scans, coverage of PMBs and even limited maternity cover. Additional member cover is usually very affordable, making this an ideal solution for students and young families.

What is gap cover?

You may have heard the term ‘gap cover’ when you inquire about hospital plans and medical aids. Gap over is insurance designed to cover the gap between what hospitals charge and what your medical aid is willing to pay.

Gap cover is useful for covering the funding shortfalls that you may experience while in hospital. It is only available for existing members of a medical aid scheme or hospital plan. Some offer cover for shortfalls of up to five times the medical aid rate. If your medical aid benefits are paid at 100% of the scheme rate, and you have a cover of that pays out two times this amount, you may still be liable to pay for a portion of the costs. Gap cover offers benefits such as out-of-hospital cover, co-payment cover, oncology benefits and more. Be sure to ask your medical aid provider for the exact benefits that your scheme offers.


Can students apply for a medical aid scheme? The short answer is yes, if you have the right documentation prepared and have done your homework. Once you have decided which is the right medical aid for your needs, you will be able to gather your documents and send in your application. Being a student does not mean you should not think about the future, and having a medical aid in place while you are still young is a positive step towards a healthier adulthood.

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