Low-cost medical plans can offer workers in the private sector access to much-needed basic health care, but despite employers being willing to sponsor this cover, uncertainty about the legality of the products may hinder growth of membership. Discovery Health's primary health-care plan is in legal limbo following failure to obtain the necessary approval. Discovery's plan covers 30,000 employees who previously did not have health-care cover. As public sector health-care facilities remain troubled and the implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI) is still years away, employers have focused on primary health-care plans to provide workers with access to private doctors, medicines, basic tests, optometry, dentistry, emergency services and limited private hospital cover for trauma and accidents at much-reduced contribution rates. Benefits differ greatly but such products start from about R160 a month, with many around R400 to R500 a month. They were initially popular in industries...

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