South Africans like many other people around the world wonder if their health insurance provides cover for the coronavirus. The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is a pandemic of COVID-19. It was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020. Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus and insurance in South Africa.
According to WHO, common symptoms of COVID-19 include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. As of 20 March, 248,098 cases have been reported in over 182 countries and territories. 10,086 people have died from it.
Coronavirus in South Africa
As of March 20, there were 202 confirmed Corona virus cases in South Africa. Although no deaths have been recorded yet, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national “state of disaster” on March 15.
If you think you have been infected, contact the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD) on 0800 029 999. You can also use the official Whatsapp platform for information by sending “hi” to 060 012 3456. Self-isolate immediately. You are advised to avoid non essential travels abroad.
Insurance Companies Offering COVID-19 Insurance Cover
Old Mutual Insurance
Old Mutual insurance is one of the biggest insurance providers in South Africa. If you cancel a trip, you would normally get 50 percent back of your ticket price. But if the cancellation is based on government’s travel warning, as is the case at the moment, or the airline cancels the flight, policyholders will get 100 percent back of the ticket price. If you decide to cancel your flight because of coronavirus fears, you will be able to get part of your money back if your plan allows cancellation for any reason
In a press release issued on January 28, Hollard announced that Hollard Travel insurance policyholders are covered for medical expenses should they contract the Coronavirus, or if they are forced to cancel their travel plans as a result of the disease. Travel insurance policies usually cover unforeseen events, excluding coverage for pandemics.
If you contract the Coronavirus while on your trip, you will be covered up to the limit of liability under your policy’s overseas medical expenses benefit. If you contract the Coronavirus before you travel, you are covered under the cancel unexpected illness benefit. If you are not ill but you do not want to risk travelling to another country, you can also claim – but you must both have purchased your policy within 24 hours of paying your trip deposit, and you must cancel your trip more than 48 hours before departure.
Discovery Health Medical Scheme
Discovery Health Medical Scheme offers the WHO Global Outbreak Benefit, which was designed for global health emergencies such as the COVID-19 virus. If a test confirms a COVID-19 virus, insurance cover is immediately available on all Discovery Health Medical Scheme health plans (during the outbreak period). The insurance also covers out-of-hospital costs for the related treatment from the Scheme’s risk pool and not Medical Savings Account or other day-to-day benefits.
Generally, policyholders are insured for diagnostic testing, diagnostic testing for influenza, consultations with healthcare professionals and defined supportive treatment and medicines. Discovery Health Medical Scheme will pay for treatment in a hospital according to the usual Scheme benefits on your chosen health plan and according to the Scheme rules. The cover for out-of-hospital treatment of COVID-19 starts when a test confirms that you or other members on your health plan have the COVID-19 virus, and ends when the WHO no longer considers the virus a global emergency.
If you have a life insurance, in most cases your policy should pay out if you die in South Africa. You should look for factors such as country of death and type of work that you do that may be excluded by your life insurance policy.
Momentum Life Insurance
Momentum Life Insurance covers those who test positive for the coronavirus under its Myriad life insurance benefits. Policyholders will be covered regardless of where they have travelled or intend to travel. For corporate employer groups who offer Momentum Health4Me health insurance solutions to their employees, these employees are also covered for treatment of the virus, within the parameters of their benefits.
Travel Insurance Consultant
Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) is one of the largest provider of travel insurance in South Africa.According to TIC sales and marketing manager, all TIC policy-holders are fully covered for emergency medical and related expenses should the traveller contract the coronavirus on a journey. However, policyholders will not be reimbursed by TIC if they cancel their journeys due to concern, apprehension or anxiety about the virus.
If the coronavirus leads to flight cancellations or travel bans issued by the World Health Organization, then the traveller will be covered by TIC’s ‘unspecified event cancellation cover’ provided they purchased their travel insurance within 48 hours of paying for their trip.
According to the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), a statutory body, if you contract life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia and respiratory failure as a result of the coronavirus, your provide should cover your cost and you should be treated at a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB) level of care. Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB) is a set of defined benefits to ensure that all medical scheme members have access to certain minimum health services, regardless of the benefit option they have selected.
If you test positive for the coronavirus, Fedhealth will cover out-of-hospital and/or in-hospital treatment as PMB and other standard managed care protocols. All beneficiaries on all plans will be covered for the testing and the management of COVID-19. If you or one of your dependants tests positive for COVID-19, the benefit cover applies according to the Scheme Rules.
Stangen will cover policyholders who test positive. However, new policyholders must disclose if they have the virus. For policyholders, if an employee who has used their sick leave contracts the virus and becomes temporarily disabled, Stangen would pay out.
If you are a policyholder, you should contact your insurance provider to know if your scheme will cover you for the coronavirus. If you experience coronavirus symptons, you should contact the National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD).