Medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy - the risks of not paying bills and how to afford private healthcare


Jade Poole from I Write Words


Going to the doctor doesn't come cheap, and a hospital stay can cost you R2000 a day! We outline the risks of not paying your medical bills and give you the solution to affording private healthcare

Private healthcare in South Africa is sometimes our only choice when it comes to making the best decision for our health. The sad truth of the matter is that public healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics are not always reliable.

Many of us have to take an entire day off of work to wait in a line for hours in hopes of seeing a doctor. And for medical emergencies, government hospitals are under-staffed and lack the right amount of medical equipment to treat the mass amount of patients. Of course, not all clinics are like this; some are incredibly run and well maintained.

When it comes to private healthcare, we find out the costs and risks of not paying your bills.

So, how much does private healthcare really cost?

General consultation

The average price of a short visit to the doctor (usually 15 minutes) is about R450.

Here are the costs of different medical experts:

●        GP and Dentist Exam: From R400

●        Paediatrician checkup: From R550

●        Optometric exam/Eye check: R300

How much does it cost for a hospital stay?


If you are not on medical aid or do not have health insurance, then you will need to pay an upfront deposit before being admitted into a hospital.

This will depend on what your medical condition is and what you are treated for. It might be as low as R3000 or as high as R15,000. If you need bypass surgery for a heart attack, then this might cost you R50,000 or more!

Extra costs

And that’s just the deposit!

Depending on the hospital and the ward you are in, then a hospital bed can cost between R1,200 to more than R2,000 a day!

This is just the cost of staying there and your meals.

Then there will be additional consultation feeds and medication fees.

If you have surgery, then you will also be billed according to the hours spent in the operating theatre.

Any medical tests such as CT scans, ultrasounds or MRI’s are also additional costs.

The risks of not paying medical bills

From the costs mentioned above, it’s easy to see how one can go into debt because of medical bills.

A few days stay in hospital to just have your appendix removed can cost you tens of thousands of rands. And let’s be honest - who has that kind of money lying around?

If something is seriously wrong and you have to spend several days in the hospital, undergoing a series of tests and being seen to by several specialists, this can land you in a pile of debt that is difficult to comprehend.

Did you know that medical debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy?

Doctors and medical practitioners are becoming stricter with their payments and are even using external companies to chase down patients who have not paid their bills.

Here’s what might happen if you don’t pay your medical bills

Credit score affected

Your credit record will be affected and your medical provider can turn your account over to a debt collector who will chase you down for the money owed.

Sued for the money

Your doctor or medical specialist might get a court’s permission to freeze your bank accounts, seize your assets to ensure you edbit is paid in full.

Refused treatment

If you have unpaid medical bills, then your doctor might refuse to treat you.

How to afford private healthcare

Have you ever heard of health insurance?

The affordable alternative to medical aid, health insurance lets you afford private healthcare when you need it most.

Most health insurers offer more than just a hospital plan and include GP visits and routine care too!

For a small monthly premium, you are covered for a number of amazing benefits and accident cover.

Oneplan Health Insurance even pays you BEFORE you see the doctor!

Click here to find out more about it and to avoid medical debt.

Because the truth is, it can happen to anyone.

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