Private hospitals and clinics are a much better choice for those who can afford them, and the costs are rather lower than in many western countries, particularly the US. Around 18 per cent of South Africa’s population are members of medical schemes that give them access to private healthcare. The number of private hospitals is growing quickly: in 1997 there were 161, by 2004 there were 200.
Two of the largest private healthcare providers are Netcare (www.netcare.co.za), with around 43 hospitals and 18 day clinics throughout South Africa, and Medi-clinic (www.mediclinic.co.za), which has around 53 hospitals.
Your insurance should include cover for private ‘rapid response’ emergency services, the private equivalent of ambulances. The state ambulance system is severely stretched, partly because of South Africa’s high rate of road accidents. The largest private rapid response company is Netcare 911, which has the biggest fleet of response vehicles (cars, ambulances, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft) and paramedics in the country. For more information visit the Netcare website (www.netcare911.co.za).