Speak to your financial adviser before making a decision affecting your medical aid and expenses.

Your health

To enjoy a comfortable retirement you must take care of yourself physically and mentally. As you get older you will find that your body is not as strong as it used to be. You will need to work at achieving maximum vitality. Make sure that your weight, blood pressure, feet, hearing, teeth and vision are in excellent condition. If you feel unwell, or have persistent illnesses, visit your GP immediately.


  • Eat regular, proper meals that have nutritional value.
  • Increase your fibre intake.
  • Use little or no salt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Cut down on caffeine.
  • Avoid full cream dairy products, fatty meats and processed meats.

Mental Health

  • Get regular sleep.
  • If possible, rest your body by taking afternoon naps to help you through the day.
  • Find new hobbies and immerse yourself in new activities with your peers.
  • Laugh a lot. As they say “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Physical Exercise

  • Physical exercise can be as simple as walking, playing golf or bowling. The idea is to stretch your body and not over-exert it.
  • Exercise improves your physical and mental well-being and makes your heart, lungs and muscles function better.

Medical cover considerations during retirement

As you get older, you are more susceptible to disease and illness. Your medical costs will probably be one of your more burdensome expenses after retirement, so you must look after yourself – prevention is better than cure. Besides the monetary expense, illness can also cause emotional stress that could lead to depression and lethargy.

When it comes to medical expenses, you generally have three options:

  1. You could pay your own contributions towards a medical aid scheme.
    If your employer will not pay for your contributions after you retire, you might have to consider changing your medical aid scheme option to one that is more affordable. This will mean an option with reduced benefits. Please remember that option changes are usually only permitted at year end.
  2. Your former employer could pay your medical aid contributions.
    Your employer will only subsidise your contributions if this is stated in your employment contract or if your employer has practised this in the past. Do not assume that because your employer is paying your contributions now, that this practice will automatically continue when you retire.
  3. You could receive a cash lump sum.
    Government legislation forces companies to reflect their post-retirement medical scheme liabilities in their financial statements. Many companies have cut down on the practise of subsidising medical aid contributions and have instead veered towards giving their employees cash lump sums, which they can use to buy a larger annuity and so have extra money to pay their own medical aid contributions.

Other important factors to consider

  • Assess your dependants’ health status. This is important when deciding on the best and most affordable option for you and your family.
  • Verify if there are any chronic illness conditions requiring chronic medicine. Chronic conditions falling outside the Prescribed Minimum Benefit conditions normally require comprehensive cover.
  • Establish if there are any other expensive medical ailments that need comprehensive cover.
  • Familiarise yourself with your medical scheme cover and understand what you are comprehensively insured for and what you will have to pay for from your savings account. Once your savings are used up, you will have to settle any medical bills yourself.
  • Although you might accumulate savings, these cannot be paid out to you. A healthy balance will assist with your day-to-day medical expenses.
  • Make sure you know what other medical insurance you have like hospital plans or gap cover.

Tax implications

  • Before age 65, up to age 65 – your tax subsidy is a fixed amount and depends on the size of your family.
  • 65 and over – you can claim all medical expenses on your tax return. This includes contributions and expenses not settled by the medical scheme.

Starting medical cover at retirement

If you do not belong to a medical aid scheme by the time you retire, then you will need to apply for membership from a number of different medical schemes to determine the best underwriting terms available to you as an individual.

It is likely that a scheme will apply individual underwriting and you will therefore be subject to general and condition-specific waiting periods as follows:

  • A three-month general waiting period – no benefits will accrue to you during the general waiting period.
  • A twelve-month condition specific exclusion – any existing medical ailments will be excluded from cover for a period of twelve months.
  • Premium loading – depending on when last you had medical scheme cover, your premiums can be loaded by up to 75% of the standard rates. This loading will apply for life.

In view of these penalties, consider joining an option that provides good hospital cover and once your waiting periods have expired, upgrade to a more comprehensive option