This is a drop from 1995, when 18% of South Africans belonged to medical schemes.

Not surprisingly, whites and those living in Gauteng and the Western Cape have the highest coverage.

Almost 70% of whites, 26.2% of those in Gauteng and 25.9% of those in the Western Cape belonged to medical schemes.

Limpopo residents had the lowest coverage (6.4%), followed by the Eastern Cape (9.6%).

Only 7.2% of Africans belong to a medical scheme.

According to Andy Gray, from the Department of Medicines Management at the Nelson Mandela Medical School, this means that  a mere 2.7 million African people out of a total of 37 million have medical cover.

Some 18.4% of coloureds and 36% of Indians belong to a medical scheme.

The Medical Schemes Council reports that, in 2003/4 there were 6 924 686 beneficiaries of medical schemes.

In total, says Gray, over 39 million people out of the total population of almost 47 million have no medical insurance.



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