Finweek English Edition - - Creating Wealth -

THE MED­I­CAL SCHEMES Amend­ment Bill has the backs up of many sec­tors of the health­care in­dus­try. How­ever, there’s a new clause in the lat­est June 2008 ver­sion that needs the at­ten­tion of med­i­cal schemes. It’s a “glar­ing is­sue” that lim­its pe­ri­ods of trus­tee ser­vice to a max­i­mum six years, says Gra­ham An­der­son, prin­ci­pal of­fi­cer of Profmed. He fears it may leave some med­i­cal schemes without “in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory” and trustees who are versed in the is­sues af­fect­ing the scheme.

Says An­der­son: “The di­rect con­se­quence of that is that many med­i­cal schemes would face the pos­si­bil­ity of the ma­jor­ity of their trustees be­ing obliged to re­sign if the Bill is passed in its cur­rent form. We’d urge the Depart­ment of Health to bear in mind there’s a se­vere short­age of peo­ple that are both will­ing and have the nec­es­sary ex­per­tise to serve as trustees in South Africa.”

It seems the depart­ment is try­ing to in­tro­duce the clause to ad­dress con­flicts of in­ter­est as part of its at­tempt to im­prove the gov­er­nance of med­i­cal schemes. An­der­son says much of what it’s try­ing to do should be wel­comed, but that it should seek less dras­tic al­ter­na­tives to ad­dress the con­flicts of in­ter­est is­sue.

Profmed’s scheme is rel­a­tively well placed, An­der­son says, hav­ing a well-ed­u­cated pool of mem­bers to draw trustees from. “How­ever, we find it takes at least two years for new trustees to be­come fa­mil­iar with the med­i­cal schemes in­dus­try, the leg­isla­tive en­vi­ron­ment in which the scheme op­er­ates, the role play­ers and the broader is­sues af­fect­ing pri­vate health­care.”

SHAUN HAR­RIS shaunh@fin­

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