Thursday 06 March 2014

How to figure out when your power will be cut in Cape Town with the 2014 load shedding schedules from Eskom

To figure out when your power will be cut…  follow these easy steps:

Step 1) Go to the Eskom page and see what “Shedding Stage” Eskom is in:
image It can be one of Stage 1 or Stage 2 or Stage 3. (Stage 3 is much worse than Stage 1)

Step 2) Next step depends on which stage Eskom is in.
Step 2a) If Eskom is in Stage 1 or Stage 2 then: 
i. Go to this page and click on the area where you live:
If your area doesn’t appear – then (I think) you are lucky that you will not be affected by Stage 1 or Stage 2 shedding.

ii. If in Stage 1 then the areas in those maps will only be load shed on certain days of the week.
iii. If in Stage 2 then the areas in those maps will be load shed on every day of the week.

Step 2b) If Eskom is in Stage 3 then:
i. Go to this page   and click on “map” to see which area you live in
and the 3 times that you will be affected which is printed on the top right of the map:

I hope this makes it easier to figure out what’s going on?

Saturday 07 December 2013

Here is HTT’s calculator for the 2014 Discovery Health plans

Yes, it’s that time of the year again – time to choose your Discovery Health plan… all those options and all that paperwork to read and understand…
If you are already on a Discovery Health plan you don't have to do anything if you want to stay on the same plan for 2014.
If, however, you would like to change to another plan, please let your employer know as soon as possible as you must send your new health plan details to Discovery Health by 13 December 2013.
This article might save you a lot of reading and paging through all the web pages on the Discovery web site.   image
The web site contains detailed information about each plan and the costs.
There’s even a nice comparison page that allows you to compare up to 3 different plans:

The details about each plan can be seen by clicking on the panels on the left hand side of the page.
Downloadable pdf’s are also listed under the “Plans we offer in 2014” button: 

{Thanks to for hosting the file for free!}   
So, how much does each plan cost? 

HTT’s Discovery Health Plan 2014 calculator:
I have collated all the information on the various plans into a spreadsheet (calculator) and you can edit the purple cells to fill in the number of people in your family and allows you to compare the costs of each plan (in a table and in a chart). 


Download HTT’s calculator that will assist you in costing the various options [2.5MB]: DiscoveryHealthOptions2014calculator.xls

Open the calculator to assist with narrowing your choice of plan as follows:
Use the spreadsheet’s “PlanComparisons” worksheet (and the pyramids in each plan’s pdf) to compare the plans - note the missing parts of the pyramids to see "what's missing" from each plan.
Note too, that the size of each segment shows smaller ATBs and larger SPGs.

So, if you want a plan with "out of hospital" cover, then you need a plan that has an MSA (Medical Savings Account) - so don't choose the Core plans (since Core plans don't provide MSA).
See this posting for explanations of these terms: Are you MSA, ATB, SPG‘ed out with Discovery Health – here’s a brief explanation of these terms
To summarise: If you need that "parachute" to kick in when out of hospital expenses get too much then you need a plan that offers the ATB facility (Above Threshold Benefit): so select from the Executive, Comprehensive or Priority plans (either: Executive, Classic Comprehensive, Essential Comprehensive, Classic Priority or Essential Priority).
Note: Priority plan has "limited ATB"
The Self Payment Gap is the amount that you need to pay once you have run out of MSA.
If you want a small SPG (Self Payment Gap) then you need to select one of the Comprehensive plans. If you want zero SPG (Self Payment Gap) then you need to select the Executive plan (as you can see the smaller the gap, the more expensive the plan becomes).

The DeltaSaver plans are similar to the Saver plans; and
the DeltaCore plans are similar to the Core plans except (mainly) that you are limited to the Delta network of hospitals (and you pay about 25% less)
Use the flowchart in the worksheet "ChoosePlanFlowChart" to help decide what kind of medical cover you need (also pasted here):
Using the spreadsheet (using the 'Figures2014' worksheet):
[Please read the disclaimer at the top of the spreadsheet :) ]
Modify the following “purple” cells to suit your situation i.e. number of dependants, Vitality, Discovery card.

Compiling the spreadsheet has highlighted some points which I did not understand previously and I am sure the following pointers will assist you in choosing which plan is best for you:
· There are 8 categories of cover: Executive, Comprehensive, Priority, Saver, Delta Saver, Core, Delta Core and KeyCare.
· Each of these categories sometimes have sub-categories: Classic, Classic Delta, Essential, Essential Delta, and Coastal.
The above 2 statements are very important in understanding how Discovery health plans have been organised… so read them and understand how categories have been split into sub-categories.
· The "Saver" and “Core” plans are cheaper mainly because they have no ATB (Above Threshold Benefit) which means when your out-of-hospital expenses have used up your MSA (Medical Savings Account) then you will need to pay all out of hospital costs out of your (after tax) pocket.  All the other plans have an ATB which kicks in as soon as you have paid a certain amount (the “gap”).
· The “Priority” plans are cheaper mainly because they have co-payments for some hospital procedures [refer to the “PriorityCoPayments” worksheet]
· If you only need a ‘hospital plan’, then the “core” or "saver" plans are for you… "Core" have no MSA nor ATB and "Saver" plans have a small MSA - remember that out of hospital expenses can add up very quickly e.g. MRI scans etc. and can wipe out the monthly savings of being on a cheaper plan (although a maximum of R1,800 will be paid out of your MSA (or out of your pocket if you're on the "Core" plan), the remainder comes out of your in-hospital benefit)
· “Classic” and “Essential” plans have almost the same in-hospital cover except for the rate paid: Classic pays up to 300% of the Discovery Health rate while Essential pays up to the Discovery Health rate. [In my experience, the doctors will charge the maximum that they can! So, if you have cover for the 300% then that’s what they’ll charge. It is no indication of their “rate”]
· The MSA amount is fixed according to the plan you're on (25% or 15% of your contribution).
· The “prescribed medicine” sub-limit has some widely differing benefits so study these carefully when selecting your plan.
· Note the additional saving when buying your chronic medication from Dischem: Earn up to 25% cash back by activating ChroniCare at 
· Check your year’s benefit usage by logging in on the Discovery web site: ->Discovery Health ->Benefits & Cover ->Benefits Used.  This will give you an idea of what cover you have used this year (Note: the past usage is no indication of next year’s needs).

Bottom line: nobody can tell you which plan you need to take – it’s your decision based on i) how much you can afford vs ii) how much you think you will need cover vs iii) how much you think you can cover yourself from your own emergency funds.

Use the calculator to compare the pyramids (cover differences) and graphs to compare costs.
If you see any errors in this article, or in the calculator, or suggestions for improvement, then please let me know so that everyone can benefit) by leaving a comment or emailing me: HandyTechTipper at

Other notes to remember:
* The last date to make changes to your plans is Friday 13th December 2013.
* From 2014, full cover for acute medicine will be extended to include certain cost-effective branded medicines through the introduction of the Preferred Medicine List. The Preferred Medicine List will include both cost-effective branded and generic medicine. These medicines will be covered in full when members use a pharmacy in our network. Medicine not on our Preferred Medicine List both branded and generic will be covered up to 75% of the Discovery Health Rate once members reach their Annual Thresholds.
* MedXpress will be the new designated network for chronic medicine for all Delta network options in 2014. This will come into effect from 1 January 2014 for all newly diagnosed members, and 1 July 2014 for all current members on Delta network options. If Delta network option members don’t use MedXpress, a 20% co-payment will apply.
* All Vitality members will have access to HealthyFood from Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay.  To make sure even more trolleys are filled with HealthyFood, all Vitality members will have access to HealthyFood from Woolworths and Pick n Pay in 2014 irrespective of their plan choice.
Here’s how it will work:
• On activating the HealthyFood benefit, you can get up to 10% cash back at Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths.
• After finding out your Vitality Age, you can choose between Pick n Pay and Woolworths to get up to 15% cash back.
• Complete a Vitality Health Check to get up to 25% cash back at your chosen partner and 10% cash back on HealthyFood at the other.
Plus DiscoveryCard holders can qualify for up to 25% cash back at both Woolworths and Pick ‘n Pay.  HealthyFood cash back also applies to Woolworths online purchases but not to Engen Woolworths store purchases
* Vitality’s adding a new travel partner, Qantas, and including more Emirates international destinations, which means you can save on flights to more than 100 international destinations.
Plus, enjoy up to 35% off the cost of accommodation at more than 500 top hotels, lodges, resorts and bed and breakfasts in the new
Vitality Hotel Collection.
Booking fee of R29 per member per booking
* Priority plan members: the defined deductibles for in-hospital procedures will range from R2,150 to R10,500 in 2014.
* Delta plans members: the deductible has increased from R5,000 to R5,450, if you do not use the Delta Hospital Network for planned procedures.

Terms to remember:
Medical Savings Account (MSA)
Insured Network Benefit (INB)
Above Threshold Benefit (ATB)
Discovery Health Rate (DHR)
See here for an explanation: 

2014 Discovery Vitality rates per month:

Member:  R169 pm
Member+1:  R199 pm
Member+2+: R225 pm

2014 Discovery Credit Card fees (annual):
Platinum R725
Gold R455
Silver R455
Blue R38 per month
Second card: R240 per year
Discovery Miles yearly fee R350
Fast Miles subscription yearly fee R2,950

Links to documents:

See here for other HTT (HandyTechTipper) calculators:

See here for more info on Discovery:

Monday 18 November 2013

TopTV changes to StarSat – what’s gone and what’s new? (and for how much)

So, the message arrived on my TopTV decoder this evening telling of the channel changes and the new pricing.  For December, we will get the new bouquet for the same pricing as for the “old” TopTV offering but from 1 Jan 2014 the pricing will change.
So, what will be added and removed from my package you might ask?
Well, a visit to the new TopTV web site redirects you to the new StarSat web site, so it’s a bit difficult to compare :(
So, I dug up my old calculator and started modifying it to see what’s new and what’s been removed.

To summarize (and what they don’t tell you on the new StarSat web site):
These are the channels that will not be on StarSat any more:
1KZN, Classica, Discovery Science, Fashion, Fuel TV, Magic TV, Natura, and Zee Cinema

These are the new channels to be added to the StartSat offering (a lot of Chinese stuff in these):
Animaux, Bollywood HD, CCTV9, CCTV News, Chinese 2, CNC, e Kasi, e Movies, eAfrica, Entertainment Stars, Extreme Sports Channel, Extremely Nigerian, Fox crime, Kung Fu 3, KZN TV, Nat Geo Gold, NBA TV, NBA TV HD, Novela E1, OH Africa, Science Channel, Smile of a Child, Star Africa 2, Star Bollywood, Star E1, Star Movies 1, Star Music, Star Novela E3, Times Now, Tshwane TV, Zing.

My main concerns and the reason why I’m probably going to say goodbye to TopTV/StarSat is that the 3 channels that we watch the most on our R169 pm bouquet (previously called Variety+Entertainment+Knowledge) are not available on the “Smart” offering for R149: Discovery Science and Natura (which – it seems - have both gone completely from StarSat) and ID Investigation Discovery (which is available on the “Super” bouquet for R199 pm). 
I don’t want to be forced into spending the extra R30 per month for those 2 channels and I may as well see what the DSTV people are offering for R199. 

Here’s the detail of my comparison of the old TopTV with the new StarSat bouquets:
image image image 
Luckily the old TopTV web site is still online on the site if you want to do your own comparisons.

The DSTV site for comparing what your R169 or R199 per month can buy you is here:

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Copyright © 2008 HandyTechTipper. All articles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 South Africa license, unless where otherwise stated.