Nzwa Shoniwa, Managing Executive for Sanlam Umbrella Solutions and Sandile Mbele, Executive Director: Corporate Solutions at AfroCentric, part of Sanlam Health Solutions
For entrepreneurs with variable income, healthcare cover can feel expensive. However, it’s wise to consider the cost of having no policies in place. Imagine being unable to work and earn for an extended period. Could your business – and finances – survive this? Living with confidence means making provision for life’s curveballs. It’s crucial for hustlers to consider cost-effective healthcare plans for professional and personal peace of mind.
Sandile Mbele, Executive Director: Corporate Solutions at AfroCentric, part of Sanlam Health Solutions, says, “It’s critical that entrepreneur’s budget for the monthly cost of healthcare cover – whether medical aid or primary health insurance. Without a plan in place, unexpected healthcare costs can create even more pressure on your business and time. Consider working with a trusted financial adviser to find the best solutions for your circumstances and budget.”
Mbele adds that it’s vital to look at your financial situation holistically, being cognisant of the constraints that may arise as you build your business. “An adviser may suggest an option that is less expensive, which sometimes means reduced cover and larger co-payments. Consider investing in gap cover to protect against shortfalls that may arise.”
Healthcare options for hustlers
In terms of basic cover, Mbele suggests a hospital plan instead of a comprehensive medical aid scheme, provided you’re comfortable with paying for out-of-hospital costs, such as general practitioner (GP) consultations and medication. Another option is nurse-led care at pharmacy clinics. Nurses can prescribe certain medications, send you for blood tests and X-rays, and refer you to a relevant provider if they feel you need to see a GP. If medical aid isn’t possible, there are also several primary health insurance options available that cover the costs of primary care.
There are, additionally, many healthcare plans designed with entrepreneurs in mind. “Most medical schemes have different options to cater for members’ varying life stages and requirements. For example, a plan that offers lower premiums for members happy to access a limited network of stipulated healthcare service providers.
“Adding accident cover is also important, especially if your business involves you being on the road. Overall, choosing the right medical cover requires a careful balance between your future healthcare needs and your current affordability.”
Other big must-haves for hustlers
Along with good health cover, every entrepreneur must have a robust emergency savings plan as a safety net against unpredictable markets. Nzwa Shoniwa, Managing Executive for Sanlam Umbrella Solutions, strongly advises that entrepreneurs contribute regularly toward their retirement, as early as possible, to capitalise on the magic of compound interest. Investing in a savings plan offer a buffer for unexpected costs – in business and life.
Employee benefits for entrepreneurs
Shoniwa says that some umbrella funds offer plans specifically designed for small businesses, “The Sanlam Easy Retirement Plan, for example, offers solutions on a plan basis for employers with as little as one employee. There are ten plans to choose from; members can start on a lower plan and move to a more comprehensive option as they build up their business. It’s a simple, affordable, accessible option.
“Often traditional retirement funds are expensive for a very small employer, and not a feasible solution. Teams may also vary significantly in their requirements, for example, some members may just want to save for retirement, while other want life and disability cover. The retirement planning process for entrepreneurs requires a holistic approach that accounts for their unique business needs and diverse teams.
In terms of healthcare provision for employees, Mbele suggests partnering with an employee benefit consultant to provide a suit of benefits to staff, including looking after their emotional and mental well-being. An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) could be a low-cost engagement tool to equip staff to deal with mental issues and stress. Additionally, regular wellness screening programmes can help with preventative care against chronic lifestyle-linked illnesses like hypertension. “Looking after employees’ health is proven to reduce absenteeism and improve productivity markedly, so should be a strong consideration.”
He concludes, “You owe it to your business to prioritise your well-being, and that of your employees. Making provision for current and future healthcare needs is a massive part of creating a successful venture and living a life of financial confidence.”