Medical aid and transport costs nudge inflation higher

Consumer inflation edged up slightly from 4,0% in January 2019 to 4,1% in February 2019, remaining firmly within the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) inflation target range of 3%–6%. Notable drivers behind the rise were medical insurance and transport costs.


Stats SA surveys health insurance fees in February of each year. On average, medical-aid schemes increased their tariffs by 8,3%, slightly higher than the 8,0% average recorded in 2018.

Overall health costs, on the other hand, climbed by 4,3% year-on-year in February 2019. Medical practitioners raised their fees by 5,7% on average, with doctors reporting the highest increase (5,8%), followed by dentists (5,5%) and hospitals (4,5%).

Transport prices climbed by 0,4% month-on-month, underpinned by increases in the price of fuel (0,3%) car rental (7,3%) and tyres (0,8%).

For those planning to buy a car, vehicle prices are 3,5% higher than they were a year ago.

Annual inflation for food and non-alcoholic beverages softened in February 2019, falling to 2,9% from 3,0% in January 2019. Bread and cereal prices continued to climb, however, registering an annual rise of 4,9%. This is in stark contrast to a year ago, when the annual rate for bread and cereals stood at -5,1%.

Month-on-month price increases were recorded for fruit (4,5%), bread and cereals (1,8%), cold beverages (0,9%), other food (0,8%), fish (0,6%) and sugar, sweets and desserts (0,6%).

There was some good news, however. Month-on-month decreases were recorded for meat (-1,5%), hot beverages (-0,9%), vegetables (-0,5%) and oils and fats (-0,1%).

For more information, download the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) release here.

Similar articles are available on the Stats SA website and can be accessed here.

For a monthly overview of economic indicators and infographics, catch the latest edition of the Stats Biz newsletter here.