SPONSORED – South African consumers, like consumers in other countries around the world, haven’t exactly had the easiest 2022 so far.
Following the devastating COVID-19 pandemic that crippled the global economy with the loss of lives and livelihoods came the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, driving up fuel prices and causing global shortages of food products like corn, wheat and oilseeds.
As if the resulting significant increases in fuel prices in South Africa in recent months had not been enough, annual consumer inflation rose to 7.4% in June from 6.5 % in May.
The June rate is the highest inflation recorded since May 2009 (8.0%) following the global financial crisis – the highest in 13 years.
In addition, in an effort to curb inflation, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) sharply increased the repo rate by 75 basis points to 5.5% on July 21, 2022.
Consumers are feeling the pinch in many ways
Annabel Bishop, Chief Economist at Investec, said: “Household finances are under increasing pressure, and this is likely to continue through the rest of the year and into 2023, suppressing economic growth as the SARB accelerates its rate hike trajectory.
Higher fuel prices are a major culprit for rising inflation levels. This not only means that it costs consumers more to keep their vehicles on the road, but also that consumer goods cost more due to higher logistics costs. It is therefore not surprising that a basket of goods costs more to the consumer.
Rising interest rates also mean an increase in consumer borrowing debt, including bonds, credit cards and various types of short-term loans, which diminishes their ability to spend.
What NOT to Cut When Times Are Tough
During times of financial difficulty, many of us have to go back to the budget drawing board to see where we could save money just to keep our heads above water.
Unfortunately, items like short-term insurance and medical aid are often the type of expenses people sacrifice to earn a few extra thousand rands a month.
But in the long run, giving up private medical coverage can have a very costly impact. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, and what if you or your children need urgent hospital treatment or are diagnosed with a serious illness?
A prolonged interruption of your medical aid coverage also means that you will pay higher rates for your medical aid if you eventually resume coverage.
With Fedhealth, you don’t have to give up your medical help
To Fedhealth, it is understood that medical aid is a big expense for many families. So, a few years ago, we launched our range of flexiFED options, medical aid options structured to give the insured more control over their medical aid expenses while guaranteeing health cover of quality. Here’s how:
1. Our flexiFED options let you choose if and how many overnight funds you use.
It’s true, you can use your flexiFED option like a supercharged hospital plan just to save (it already has built-in benefits paid for by Risk to give you more value) BUT you enjoy the peace of mind you are covered if you need hospitalization. From just R1,481 p/m
· OR, you can choose to only access a certain amount of the daily funds we make available to you and only pay back what you use over 12 months. You therefore control your reimbursements on a daily basis. If you don’t use it, you don’t pay for it.
· Finally, you also have the option of using it like the medical savings account on any other medical aid – we will make an amount available at the start of the year and you pay the same amount for your daily life each month.
2. Our GRID* options allow you to pay 11% less each month by using Fedhealth Network hospitals only.
Choose a GRID discount and you’ll be limited to our network of over 150 world-class private hospitals, but pay 11% less on your flexiFED rate.
3. Our Elect* options allow you to pay 25% less each month by paying a fixed copayment on planned hospital procedures.
Choose an Elect discount and you’ll pay a R13,000 co-pay on all scheduled hospital procedures, but save 25% on your monthly rate.
* GRID and Elect restrictions only apply in the case of planned procedures, such as elective caesareans for example. The restrictions do not apply in the event of an accident or emergency.
Yes, times are tough in South Africa right now and we are strapped for money like never before. But with a little planning and choosing a flexiFED option from Fedhealth, you’ll weather the storm without putting your precious health at risk.
Call the Fedhealth Customer Contact Center on 0860 002 153, visit fedhealth.co.za or talk to your broker.