Save your MSA in 2022
The Medical Savings Account (MSA) is an amount provided to you at the start of the year by your medical insurer; the only way to save on your medical and dental costs is by being healthy. It is used to pay for day-to-day doctor visits, X-rays and dentist visits. You can negate using this fund by leading a generally healthy lifestyle. Heres how.
Prevention is better than cure.
If certain diseases run in your family, you can change the odds and cut the oil, salt and sugar out of your diet to avoid high cholesterol, high blood pressure levels and diabetes.
Look at stopping the bad habits such as smoking and drugging; cutting back on or cutting out alcohol; going to the gym, being outdoors and attending wellness cooking classes with a dietitian or a naturopath.
These are always going to be cheaper than expensive medical treatment, and thus saving money on your comprehensive medical aid scheme’s Medical Savings Account (MSA) begins outside of the parameters of your plan and its benefits, with prevention.
For instance, take saving on dentistry costs. The only way to save in the long run and prevent expensive root canals and bridges is to spend on the annual cleaning, x-rays and check-ups. And at home, keep your diet alkaline because acidic conditions in the mouth lead to cavities. Also crucial to maintaining oral hygiene is brushing properly at least twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash.
However, WebMD reports that the best way to save on medical costs is to know your medical plan and, in this case, your MSA, which is a fixed amount allocated to you at the start of each year.
MSA is like bank interest-accumulating savings account that rolls over to the next year if you don’t use all the funds for qualifying medical procedures.
*The guidelines in this article are a general depiction of MSA – contact us to find out about Affinity Dental’s specific products.
In order to save your MSA, you should:
- First of all, know your plan and know what costs you are responsible for
- Ask for lists of all the practitioners in the scheme’s network.
- Check what benefits are covered and their value. For instance, if the amount allocated to dental care is R3500 and you spend R4500 for dental care, then you have to pay R1000. It can’t come out of the MSA.
- You should keep track of what you have spent on the various categories of medical procedures and stick within those limits so that you don’t have to pay out of pocket.
- Try and save your MSA by keeping it for unforeseen medical procedures that crop up.
- Don’t accept a referral from your dentist to see a dental specialist without first checking to see if there are dentists in the approved network who can do the same procedure at less the cost of a specialist.
- Check on the location of your network approved dentist or doctor. Rather opt for a dentist in a lower-income area whose overheads are less. You will find their rates are a lot more reasonable than dentists situated in upmarket areas.
- With dentistry, save money by going to a Dental School Clinic for a procedure.
What can’t you use your MSA for?
According to Media 24, just to give context to fine print around MSA’s, you can’t use your account for the following:
- Anything from your overall annual limit, such as hospital stays
- Anything that has a sub-limit but there is no indication that funds can be used from the MSA
- Clauses differ from scheme to scheme and fund to fund, so you always have to check with your scheme before spending from your MSA
- Services that could be subject to overall annual limit such as psychiatric costs; MRI and CT scans; immunisations and vaccinations; certain screening examinations such as mammograms and cholesterol; drug and alcohol rehab; ambulance services
- If you’ve registered your chronic medicines with the scheme
- If you’ve registered your HIV treatment with the scheme
- All Prescribed Minimum Benefit co-payments. This you have to pay
- Illegitimate claims
- Future-dated services
- Chronic medication co-payments
- Delivery fees
- Services rendered by providers who don’t have a practice number
- Travel costs missed appointments.
Once you have learnt all, you need to know you should be able to work out how to save your MSA for qualifying procedures or for unexpected healthcare costs.
Qualifying MSA payments
Besides payments that are approved on merit in rare cases, these are the items and services that your MSA could fund:
- Non-PMB GPs for specialist consultations
- Specialist procedures
- Acute medicine; Pharmacist Advised Therapy (PAT) medicine
- Optometry: spectacles, lenses and contact lenses
- Dental services, including orthodontic treatment after you’ve used your basic dentistry benefit
- Chiropractic, chiropody, podiatry and physiotherapy services
- Homoeopaths, naturopaths, osteopaths with medicines
- Audiology, speech and occupational therapy
- Dietitian services
- Clinical psychology, social workers and related services
- Orthotists and prosthetists
If you use your allocated MSA fund of R6000 a year, for example, you can’t top up the account, and you will be in debt if you spend more than you’ve contributed. You don’t want to end up in the red, so you always need to keep track of expenses so that you can always have a positive balance for those unforeseen emergencies.
Dental insurance, just like health insurance, covers the cost of certain procedures, check-ups and emergencies, to a certain percentage. Dental insurance policies help many people to effectively budget for the cost of major dental procedures.
As for Affinity Dental, there are three tiers of dental insurance available at different price points. Each of these options covers certain specialist work to various degrees.
If you need to find an Affinity Dental approved dentist in your area, click here.