Is your medical savings account often empty
by the third month of the year?
Clicks brings you a 4-step guide
to making your medical aid savings go further
Choose generic medication
Many South Africans regard generics – medicines that are comparable to a well-known brand for an intended use, dosage form and strength – as inferior medication, choosing to pay more for non-generic brands instead. “Some generics are clones, meaning they are made by the original brand on the same assembly line, but are simply packed in different boxes. The price difference is significant,” says Clicks pharmacist, Sonia Mawalla.
Still not convinced by generic medication? To be approved by the Medicines Control Council in South Africa, generic medicines must contain the same active ingredients as the original drug, be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration, and deliver the same amount of the active ingredient as the original. All of this is assessed in a clinical trial. Generics, therefore, offer the same basic recipe at a far lower cost. The International Generic Pharmaceutical Alliance estimates that generics are anywhere between 20 and 90 percent cheaper.
Trust your Clicks Pharmacist
“Polypharmacy – the use of four or more medications at once – can quickly eat away medical aid savings,” says Mawalla. “If you have cold and flu symptoms, such as a runny nose, itching eyes and a headache, I would recommend one medicine that contains an antihistamine, decongestant and paracetamol combination, which would address all three symptoms. Ask your Clicks Pharmacist about the best treatment for all your symptoms”, she adds.
Save your medical savings
“At the beginning of the year, many South Africans buy unnecessary medication because they still have savings available at this time of year; I would suggest leaving medical savings for essential medication only,” says Mawalla. Also, rather pay cash for inexpensive items like Panado, setting aside funds for more costly medication that you might need to take out of your medical aid savings later in the year.
Choose a healthy lifestyle
By eating a nutritious, balanced diet, exercising regularly, managing stress and getting plenty of rest, you may well be able to reduce the need for medicines.
“In some cases, making healthy lifestyle changes, in consultation with your doctor and pharmacist, means you can reduce dosages and even stop using certain medication. And, of course, there are many benefits to your health in addition to saving money,” says executive director of the Pharmaceutical Society of SA Ivan Kotze. Part of a healthy lifestyle is having regular checkups.