Orthopedic devices can be costly. You can classify everything from prosthesis to a wheelchair as well as compression stockings for varicose veins as orthopedic devices.

On a daily basis, I hear medical aid advertisements claiming that their company will look after you better than their competitors and make big promises about daily fees and hospital benefits.

I challenge every person that reads this column to phone their medical aid provider and ask them the following questions:

  • What are my benefits as far as orthopedic appliances (or external prosthesis) are concerned?
  • Will you pay up to R250 000 for an electric wheelchair if I become a quadriplegic?
  • Will you pay up to R750 000 for an above knee prosthesis with a microprocessor controlled knee joint?
  • While you’re at it, ask if you will be conveniently guided to use a preferred supplier and at the same time you should also ask how they went about in choosing their preferred providers?

To be fair, some medical aid products are better than others but I think that they should offer an extra option. An option called “external orthopedic appliances” so that the patient knows that these things are expensive and whether they are covered or not.

Many patients are completely surprised when they are faced with the cost of the above-mentioned items because their medical aid company did not educate them about this grey area. And face it, the last thing on your mind when shopping around for a medical scheme is paraplegia or amputation.

I’ve had to listen to a medical aid assessor asking, (and they love referring to prosthesis as cars) “but does this patient really need a Mercedes Benz leg?”

That might be a valid question but remember the leg that you’ve lost was in fact a Rolls Royce!

So, please do yourself the favour and educate yourself in this regard of healthcare before you need an orthopedic device!