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Expat Exchange - Enrolling in the Public Healthcare System in South Africa
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Enrolling in the Public Healthcare System in South Africa

By Betsy Burlingame

Mondly by Pearson
Mondly by Pearson

Summary: A primer on how to enroll in the public healthcare system in South Africa.

Healthcare in South Africa - Enrolling in the Public Healthcare System in South Africa

If you're planning to enroll in the public healthcare system in South Africa, this article covers the requirements for foreigners to be able enroll in the public healthcare system, the steps involved and more.

South Africa's public healthcare system, known as the National Health Insurance (NHI), is a government-funded system that aims to provide all South African residents with essential healthcare, regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution. The NHI is not mandatory for all residents, but it is designed to be accessible to all. However, it's important to note that while the NHI is intended to provide universal healthcare, the quality of care can vary significantly. Many South Africans also use private healthcare, either out-of-pocket or through private health insurance.

For foreigners, access to the public healthcare system in South Africa depends on their residency status. Permanent residents have the same access to the NHI as South African citizens. Temporary residents, such as those on work or study visas, have access to emergency medical services but may not have access to the full range of NHI services. Tourists and visitors are expected to have travel insurance that covers any medical expenses.

Enrolling in the Public Healthcare System

Here are the steps for enrolling in the public healthcare system in South Africa:

  1. Obtain a South African Identity Document: This is the first step for enrolling in the NHI. You will need to apply for this document at the Department of Home Affairs.
  2. Register with the NHI: Once you have your South African Identity Document, you can register with the NHI. This can be done at any public healthcare facility.
  3. Receive your NHI Card: After registering, you will receive an NHI card. This card will be needed whenever you access healthcare services under the NHI.

It's important to note that while the NHI is intended to provide universal healthcare, the quality of care can vary significantly. Many South Africans also use private healthcare, either out-of-pocket or through private health insurance. If you're a foreigner moving to South Africa, it may be worth considering private health insurance to ensure access to higher quality healthcare.

Private Health Insurance

Many foreigners in South Africa choose to use private health insurance. This can provide access to private healthcare providers, which often offer a higher standard of care than public facilities. There are many private health insurance providers in South Africa, so it's worth shopping around to find a plan that suits your needs and budget.

Remember, whether you choose to use the public healthcare system or private health insurance, it's important to ensure you have adequate healthcare coverage while living in South Africa.

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Traveling Mailbox serves thousands of travelers, expats, digital nomads, businesses, individuals and others in over 47 Countries by scanning their postal mail so they can view it online anywhere in the world. They provide customer service 7 days a week so if you need assistance, it is just a phone call away. Traveling Mailbox works with Evernote, Bill.com and Dropbox. And, there are Traveling Mailbox apps available for iOS and Android devices.
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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


Mondly by Pearson
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