Cost of med­i­cal aid de­ters spread

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Ta­mar Kahn Health and Sci­ence Writer kahnt@busi­nesslive.co.za

The num­ber of med­i­cal-scheme ben­e­fi­cia­ries re­mained vir­tu­ally un­changed for the past seven years with high un­em­ploy­ment and lack of gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion said to be keep­ing mem­ber­ship out of reach of a grow­ing slice of the pop­u­la­tion.

The num­ber of med­i­cal-scheme ben­e­fi­cia­ries re­mained vir­tu­ally un­changed for the past seven years with high un­em­ploy­ment and lack of gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion said to be keep­ing mem­ber­ship out of reach of a grow­ing slice of the pop­u­la­tion.

The trend is re­vealed in the 2017/2018 Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes an­nual re­port, tabled in par­lia­ment last week. There were 8.87-mil­lion med­i­calscheme ben­e­fi­cia­ries in 2017, com­pared with 8.53-mil­lion in 2011 while the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion grew from 51.55-mil­lion to 56.84-mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Stats SA. The per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion cov­ered by med­i­cal schemes fell from 16.55% to 15.61% in this pe­riod.

“The lack of growth in med­i­cal scheme mem­ber­ship in­di­cates its lack of af­ford­abil­ity,” said Wits Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Alex van den Heever.

The de­clin­ing pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion be­long­ing to med­i­cal schemes re­flected the poor state of the econ­omy and the gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to take steps to make mem­ber­ship more af­ford­able, he said.

“There is a strong cor­re­la­tion be­tween reg­is­tered tax­pay­ers and the num­ber of prin­ci­pal mem­bers of med­i­cal schemes: any­one with a pre­car­i­ous in­come won’t join,” he said.

“The gov­ern­ment has sat on its hands. It has done noth­ing to en­hance cov­er­age, nor has it done any­thing to reg­u­late costs.

The coun­cil once again drew at­ten­tion to the re­mu­ner­a­tion of med­i­cal-scheme trus­tees and prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers, an is­sue it has flagged for sev­eral years.

It had pro­posed in the draft Med­i­cal Schemes Amend­ment Bill that it pub­lish pa­ram­e­ters for the pay of scheme of­fi­cials, said spokesper­son Grace Khoza.

Med­i­cal schemes are headed by prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers, ap­pointed and over­seen by boards of trus­tees. The re­port in­cludes de­tails of re­mu­ner­a­tion at all 80 SA schemes. The Dis­cov­ery Health Med­i­cal Scheme (DHMS) prin­ci­pal of­fi­cer, Nozipho Sang­weni, was the most gen­er­ously re­warded, at R5.13m.

DHMS re­mu­ner­a­tion com­mit­tee chair David King said it was “crit­i­cal that the scheme is able to at­tract and re­tain ex­ec­u­tives of suf­fi­cient cal­i­bre to carry out the com­plex tasks in­volved in man­ag­ing the scheme and its con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ships”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.