South Africa

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Health Care and Insurance in South Africa

South Africa has much more in store for expats than you might expect. It’s impossible to make broad categorizations about the countless facets of living in South Africa, which is famous for its diversity — best go experience it yourself! Let us give you a brief overview.
South Africa has excellent health-care institutions and attracts a lot of medical tourism.

Health Infrastructure: The Lowdown

The South African health infrastructure is generally of very high quality, especially in large cities. Hospitals and clinics have highly trained, experienced staff. In particular, South Africa has excellent clinics for heart disease and eye conditions, attracting a respectable number of medical tourists every year.

Pharmacies in south Africa tend to be well stocked, with most international medicines available. However, if you regularly take prescription medication, you should be aware of the fact that some pharmaceuticals can be very expensive. If you can, bring a small supply to last you for at least the first couple of weeks or months in order to save some money. Do not forget to bring all medication in its original packaging, along with the prescription from your doctor.

South Africa has good hygiene standards, especially when it comes to food preparation, meaning you will be able to enjoy meals from street vendors, as well as locally grown produce and dairy products. The country’s water supply is also of a high standard, so you can drink tap water without any problems.

Insurance for Expats: Make Sure You Are Well Informed

There is no national health plan in South Africa, so we strongly advise you to organize buying insurance with full coverage well before you relocate. Alternatively, discuss the inclusion of a group healthcare plan in your benefits package with your future employer. Even with insurance, you cannot always be completely sure that all expenses will be taken care of by your insurance provider. The cost of healthcare in South Africa is steadily rising, and some insurance providers have caps on certain services. If the costs for a certain service or treatment reach this cap, you will be liable to pay yourself.

The SA health website, run by the government of South Africa, is a good source of information for all the health services and resources on offer. It should definitely be among your websites to visit before taking the big step into your new expat life. If you would like to get direct links to all healthcare providers in South Africa to compare, please see the directory of the Board of Healthcare Funders of South Africa.

Important National Health Issues

A very pressing health issue is the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country. It is estimated that just over seven million people — translating to roughly 12.6 percent of the population — live with HIV/AIDS. It is also one of the leading causes of death in the country. The fact that the rate of new infections seems to be on the decline is a silver lining in this matter.

Other health issues that have become increasingly serious include tuberculosis as well as insect and tick-borne diseases. In contrast to many other African countries, South Africa is largely free of malaria, and only in certain parts of the country can the malaria-carrying mosquito be found. Some risk areas include parts of rural Limpopo and Mpumalanga, including the Kruger National Park and other game reserves. If you are planning on entering these areas, then you should take prophylactic medication as a precautionary measure.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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