Back Pain

Updated 01 March 2017

Who pays for your back operation?

Having a back operation? Will your medical scheme cover it?


Medical aid funds are often reluctant to pay for back operations because they’re expensive, but also because in most cases surgery could have been avoided had patients adapted their lifestyle in time by not being overweight and getting sufficient exercise, for example.

Many medical aids also believe some of the newer procedures are still in an experimental phase and their long-term success is unclear. They feel clinical evidence is insufficient and the procedures haven’t been internationally approved.

Most medical aids pay for discectomies, laminectomies and spinal fusions – the three most common back operations. The newer procedures require the doctor to motivate to the fund why they’re necessary.

Some of the country’s largest medical aids now pay for the implant of titanium struts between cervical vertebra.

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Susan qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1990, and completed her master’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2013 at the University of Pretoria. She has a special interest in human biomechanics, as well as the interaction between domestic and work-related ergonomics.

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