Examining maternity benefits: A closer look at supporting the whole family

Gary Feldman
19 July 2023
6 min read

The maternity landscape in South Africa is evolving, with more corporates catering for paternal benefits. When you review the medical scheme maternity benefits offered on the different medical schemes, there has been significant change over time. In fact, the benefits have experienced significant changes in the last 10 to 15 years. Gone are the days of mothers only receiving minimal benefits such as gynaecological consultations, an ultrasound consultation and care while in hospital. Families are now able to receive a wide range of comprehensive benefits, as schemes have taken a holistic approach to maternity, that includes benefits which are in place to assist the whole family, not just for the birth of the baby.

An in-depth look at schemes

According to membership base, the top six medical schemes are Discovery Health, Bonitas, Momentum Health, Bestmed, Medihelp and Medshield.. We list the maternity benefits to determine how the schemes are offering forward thinking whole family benefits, particularly regarding mental health during pregnancy. Schemes offer benefits both during the pregnancy and after birth.

During Pregnancy

During pregnancy most schemes offer a range of benefits which are available to all members regardless of the plan they are on.  Some of these include;

  • Up to 12 antenatal consultations with your gynaecologist, GP or midwife
  • Two 2D ultrasound scans including one nuchal translucency test. 3D and 4D scans are paid up to the rate paid for 2D scans,
  • Four to five antenatal classes or consultations with a registered nurse,
  • A defined basket of blood tests
  • Up to two foetal growth or maturity scans

After birth

  • Baby is covered for up to two visits to a GP, paediatrician or an ENT
  • Mother is covered for one six-week post-birth consultation at her midwife, GP or gynaecologist, either as part of her delivery or if there are any complications
  • One breastfeeding consultation with a registered nurse or a breastfeeding specialist  
  • New-born hearing screening
  • Baby immunisations for children up to 6
  • Baby and mommy bags
  • Baby and family vouchers

Innovative, forward-thinking benefits

Mental health assessments

In South Africa, the prevalence of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and in the year after birth ranges between 16% and 47%. During this period, approximately 10% of women are at high risk of suicide. Many of these women do not receive adequate healthcare or support. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation. That’s why, offering two mental health consultations with a counsellor or psychologist on some of the schemes is a unique and progressive benefit.

Technological advancements

Advancements in online health services such as antenatal classes and educational pregnancy webinars are cost-effective and increase reach, especially when it comes to outlying, remote areas. In addition,  three of the medical schemes offer their own, unique doctor-on-call solution that’s available 24/7,access to online portals, newsletters, webinars, and online classes. The question is, are medical aids using technology optimally? Digital technology is constantly evolving, and healthcare solutions should be evolving at the same pace as these advancements.

Discovery’s remote monitoring device takes first prize for innovation

Discovery members (on selected plans) have access to a remote monitoring medical examination device called “TytoHome”. This device allows mothers to do a medical examination from home. They send throat and ear images, as well as heart and lung sounds to the doctor in real-time. Although the device comes with a co-payment, it is a new, innovative healthcare offering.

Where maternity benefits stand today

Maternity benefits have, progressed. Offering innovative cutting-edge healthcare solutions like Discovery’s TytoHome device, and further adding more nice-to-have benefits like meal vouchers and mommy care bags. Maternity benefits over the last 15 years have changed and developed into a full basket of benefits offered to a “growing family”. It is likely that further developing new benefits that offer value post pandemic, will be with regards to greater pivots to modern digital technology and mental health consultations to address post-partum depression. Possibly with an inclusion of paternal cover and support, or extended family cover.

Speak to an NMG healthcare consultant to ensure you know and understand the maternity benefits you have available to you, what is covered and what is not covered.

T&Cs apply. NMG Consultants and Actuaries (Pty) LTD is an authorised financial services provider FSP 12968


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