Does your 18-year-old child need to be on their own medical aid?

Medical aids have this rule that only persons over the age of 18 are allowed to have insurance in their own name since anyone younger is considered a minor and should therefore be a dependent.

This says nothing about whether or not they can remain as dependents while over the age of 18. The truth is that your child can remain as a dependent until the age of 21. Thereafter, they will need to seek their own insurance. If you’re concerned about what this process may require and whether or not you may still keep them on your plan then be sure to read on.

Questions around college and full-time study

Since plenty of young adults go straight into college or university after school, with some taking on full-time courses, it's difficult to expect them to have to pay towards monthly insurance. This is especially true if they do not have a source of income. If your child is a student, many policies will allow for them to continue to be dependent as long as you can prove they are still a student.

As such, for legal reasons, they will remain under your policy as a child dependent and will be covered under the same dependency rates. Proof of study will be required once a year and may come in the form of tuition fees, student cards, or proof of enrollment.

Questions around employment

One of the sad realities of South Africa is our high unemployment rates. These stats are especially true among the youth who are battling to find work and a place to stay, let alone take care of their medical aid.

In the case of your over-21 year old child being unemployed, insurers will continue to allow you to keep them as a dependent for as long as you can provide proof of unemployment. These may come in the form of bank statements that prove your child remains solely under your care and financial aid.

Insurers are well aware of the high unemployment rates and provide special dispensation for parents who provide for their over 21 year olds. However, if you attempt to keep your child under your policy and it is discovered they are employed, you could suffer harsh penalties for committing insurance fraud.

Questions around salaries

Lets face it, entry level salaries in South Africa can barely cover food expenses let alone medical aid costs. The sad reality is that it is extremely difficult to keep your child as a dependent without paying adult rates. You will be spending more each month to keep them under your policy than they would on their own.

Something that may assist with the financial costs of medical aid is looking into hospital plans with gap cover and which is designed to help people within the lower income bracket

Questions around disability

If your child is disabled and over the age of 21, they need to be entirely under your dependency in order to still qualify as a child dependent You will need to provide proof in the form of doctors or psychologists proving that your child is entirely under your dependency.

Luckily, most medical aids in South Africa do not consider disabled children over the age of 21 as child dependents, but this is heavily dependent on the type of disability. Children able to earn their own incomes despite their disabilities are exempt from this clause.

For more information on the best forms of medical aid coverage that you can aquire for both you and your dependents contact PBA.

Contact us:

Phone: 011 803 9686

Email: or

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