South Africa

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Health Care and Insurance in South Africa

South Africa has much more in store for expats than you might expect. It’s impossible to make broad categorizations about the countless facets of living in South Africa, which is famous for its diversity — best go experience it yourself! Let us give you a brief overview.
South Africa has excellent health-care institutions and attracts a lot of medical tourism.

About the Health Infrastructure

The South African health infrastructure is generally of very high quality, especially in large cities. Hospitals and clinics have highly trained, experienced staff. South Africa has excellent clinics for heart disease and eye conditions, attracting a respectable number of medical tourists every year.

Pharmacies are well stocked with anything you might be familiar with from your home country. However, if you regularly take prescription medication, you should be aware of the fact that some pharmaceuticals can be very expensive. If you can, bring a small supply to last you for at least the first couple of weeks or months in order to save some money. Do not forget to bring all medication in its original packaging, along with the prescription from your doctor.

South Africa’s standards in water supply and hygiene in food preparation are very high. You will be able to enjoy meals from street vendors, locally grown produce and dairy products, or tap water without problems.

Insurance for Expats: Make Sure You Are Well Informed

We strongly advise you to get to the matter of buying insurance with full coverage well before you relocate to South Africa. Alternatively, discuss the inclusion of a group healthcare plan in your benefits package with your future employer. There is no national health plan. Even with insurance, you cannot always be completely sure that all expenses will be taken care of by your insurance provider. The costs of healthcare in South Africa are steadily rising, and some insurance providers have caps on certain services. If the costs for a certain service or treatment reach this cap, you will be liable to pay yourself.

The South Africa Info Portal, a service provided by Brand SA, has further detailed information on all health-related topics. It should definitely be among your websites to visit before the big step into your new expat life. Another helpful tool is the South African online directory Ananzi, which offers, among many others, a directory category on health care and insurance. If you would like to get direct links to all healthcare providers in South Africa in to compare, please see the directory of the Board of Healthcare Funders of South Africa.

Important National Health Issues

A very pressing health issue is the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the country. It is estimated that about 6.8 million people — translating to roughly 13% of the population — live with HIV/AIDS. It is also one of the leading causes of death in the country. The fact that the rate of new infections seems to be on the decline is a silver lining in this matter.

Other health issues that become increasingly serious include tuberculosis and insect and tick borne diseases. In contrast to many other African countries, however, there is no need to worry about malaria, as the country is largely free of the disease. Some risk areas include parts of rural Limpopo and Mpumalanga, including the Kruger National Park and other game reserves.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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