'SA clings to medical scheme cover despite economic woes'



SA’s two biggest medical scheme administrators, Discovery Health and Medscheme, have reported growth in membership among their client schemes, despite the downturn in the economy and widespread job losses during the coronavirus pandemic, reported Business Day (26 July 2021).

According to Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach, the growth in medical scheme membership was primarily among individuals seeking cover, rather than among businesses adding to their pool of subsidised employees. He declined to quantify the growth in Discovery Health Medical Scheme, as the figures have yet to be audited.

A similar trend has been seen in Medscheme, which is owned by JSE-listed Afrocentric, said Afrocentric CEO Ahmed Banderker. People are holding on to medical aid for dear life, and we are seeing no more buydown than usual, he said.

According to the five-year health market inquiry, which published its final report in late 2019, the lack of competition in the private hospital sector, the absence of tariff negotiations between medical schemes and healthcare professionals, and weak government oversight were

among the factors contributing to the rising costs of private health care and medical scheme membership.

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