Using rewards to pay for medicine

This year our family is working our rewards programmes to cover the costs of medication.

rewardsAfter realising we would pay R1 500 less per month on our premiums if we selected a medical scheme option that did not cover my son’s R900 per month chronic medication, it was a no-brainer to make the change. On that calculation alone we save around R600 per month.

However, we also face the challenge that each year we run out of funds by about July – and that was when my son’s medication came out of the chronic cover and not out of our day-to-day savings. If we use our day-to-day savings to cover his medication, we will run out even sooner.

So we have implemented a dual strategy of savings and rewards to make our medical savings funds last the whole year.

Supplementing medical savings

We have taken R1 000 of our premium saving and added that to a separate medical savings account. As Momentum is our medical scheme provider we are using the Momentum HealthSaver account which earns interest and which we can use for any health-related expenses.

If your scheme does not offer such a product, then you can open a savings account linked to your bank account that is earmarked for medical expenses.

Using rewards

We’ve signed up with our medical scheme’s rewards programme, Multiply Premier. This costs R265 per month for the whole family, but because my husband and I are very active, we can earn an additional R11 940 per year through this programme to fund our medical costs.

In January, for example, both my husband and I earned R600 by having 16 active days ‒ each time I go for a run, I earn R40! So after deducting the monthly subscription fee, in January we earned a net R935 that we can put towards covering medical expenses. And it’s easy enough to duplicate these earnings every month.

Our Clicks rewards also go to covering medication costs. We receive cashback points when we shop at Clicks as well as additional points when we fill up at a Shell garage. Between Clicks and Shell we earn around R60 in cash back each month – or R720 in a year.

Based on this strategy, we will be only spending R235 less per month than we did last year; the difference is that the funds will actually last the whole year and we shouldn’t experience any out-of-pocket expenses. We may even find that the rewards programmes are sufficient to cover our medical expenses without supplementing with additional savings, but those additional savings are good to build up for any uncovered emergencies or to cover future health cost increases.

If you find yourself short every year when it comes to covering your medical expenses, focus those reward programmes to exclusively supplement your medical spend.

If you are a member of Discovery Vitality or Sanlam Reality Money Saver card (available to Fedhealth and Bonitas members) earmark your cashback rewards just for medical expenses.

Clicks also has partnership agreements with other retailers in its group including Sorbet, SpecSavers and Musica – so any money you spend at those outlets earns you points to use at Clicks. If you are a member of the Vitality, Sanlam Reality, or Standard Bank Ucount rewards programmes, you can boost your Clicks rewards even further.

Dis-Chem offers a very attractive rewards programme with extensive partners including eBucks, Absa Rewards, Momentum Multiply, Discovery Vitality and Bestmed. By using dual rewards systems, you can really make those rewards work for you in a meaningful way.

This article first appeared in City Press.