Our expert says:
Unfortunately the medical scheme industry in general has not been the most efficiently operated and the biggest difficulty trying to provide benefits to members is that on the one hand they can not be run for profit and this some times has the tendency of taking away the cutting edge developments that you find in other industries, but on the other hand you can not discriminate on any grounds, in particular age. This means that even though your friend may not want (can not avail of) maternity benefits they will be includedin the range - but is important to note that older people generally have higher medical costs than younger people and the scheme can not charge more for that fact.
Most schemes outsource the administration, and even if you find a scheme with the right benefits that you want you are not necessarily guaranteed to have great service. The AGM, Principal Office and Trustees are the forum through which you can voice your objection to anything related tot he scheme, few people however make use of this.
In terms of the correct medical scheme it is best to seek advice from an independent finacial advisor, however no scheme in particular is geared towards the elderly or the young. All schemes have to provide a certain minimum range of benefits, and the remainder can be covered either within the risk pool of the scheme, or are paid from savings. I am aware that some schemes are already introducing more comprehensive range of benefits from the risk pool rather than letting the member carry this risk themselves, and this is more akin to the traditional features that existed some time ago.
I must warn you that the longer you are not a member of a scheme the more the scheme can introduce penalties and waiting periods, so if there is an intention of rejoining it should be done sooner rather than later.
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