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Covering Medical Expenses for South Africa’s Missing Middle

Between 70 and 80 per cent of employed South Africans cannot afford medical aid, and do not always have cash readily available to pay for unexpected medical expenses. A local fintech startup thinks it has the answer. Launched in 2017, Oyi has developed a prepaid medical card solution that can be used only to pay for doctors and medical services, or purchase medicines from any pharmacy. “Increasingly, employers are unable to offer access to medical aid. Even those South Africans who can afford medical aid often run out of benefits before the year ends. Until now, there’s been no effective way to save for medical expenses other than medical aid,” Tami Ngalo, chief executive officer (CEO) of Oyi, told Disrupt Africa. Oyi provides this solution, essentially giving users a bank account that is ring-fenced to help them to prepare for unforeseen healthcare expenses. “The concept is simple. You put money aside at your own pace, be it monthly or as a lump sum, and use it specifically to pay doctors and buy medicine. With three different options to suit different needs, you can save for your medical expenses, and the Oyi card removes the pain of paying out of pocket medical costs once medical aid funds dry up,” Ngalo said.