Visiting the Doctor in South Africa



Healthcare in South Africa is a cross between first and third world quality. Most public institutions offer substandard services while the private ones are at par with those of major destinations in the globe.

Finding a doctor, however, will not be a problem, as expats may simply ask friends and family for referrals. Those who want to be sure can call the Health Professions Council of South Africa at 012-338 9300 or 6680 where all doctors in South Africa are registered.

There is no special system for visiting a doctor but most locals would first see a general practitioner (GP) before coming to a specialist. Those who are on public health insurance can expect up to 40% co-payment from the government but more often, for small, basic services, patients will have to pay cash up front. On the other hand, international health insurance in South Africa provides more options which more expats seem to be warm to.

There are issues regarding quality of health care but everything could come down to choosing a private or a public hospital in South Africa and its location. For example, private hospitals in almost all parts of the country are fully equipped with advanced technologies and competent medical staff, but public hospitals are usually underfunded and offer substandard care. In the bigger cities such as the capital, Cape Town, private hospitals are the best while public hospitals may not look good on the outside but offer quality service to patients.

In this country, health care could be a matter of knowing which providers to choose or skip. And expats have to start by knowing the differences between what each can and cannot offer before making a final choice.