Medshield Medical Scheme has launched its benefit options and contributions for 2022. The Scheme has confirmed its commitment to a member-centric approach whereby, in the light of the severe economic climate caused by Covid-19 over the last 18 months, Medshield supports its members by announcing a 5.2% increase on specified benefits across all options with no benefit cuts. The Scheme applied a member weighted average contribution increase of only 6.3%, following due consideration for sustainable contribution consistency and long-term value certainty.
Thoneshan Naidoo, Principal Officer of Medshield Medical Scheme confirms the Scheme’s utmost dedication to ensuring all members and their dependents continue to receive much-needed quality healthcare. “Medshield has always ensured that its members are at the forefront of our endeavours. Annually we adjust and enhance benefits when it matters the most and continues to provide real value to our members,” states Naidoo.
“Medshield has refined our product offering for 2022 to address the gaps raised by brokers, and to improve the Medshield basket of options for future membership growth, including the new hospital plan targeted at sports women and men at an affordable price, and Low-Cost Benefit Options (LCBOs), both subject to CMS approval. We have applied a 5.2% enhancement on specified benefits across all options with no benefit cuts whilst unlocking additional GP consultations for chronic members amongst others. In the interest of our members, we have repackaged some of the benefits for better value and added ease of access to care, including our Medshield Mom and Toddler benefits,” he says.
As a not-for-profit organisation, Medshield’s only form of paying members healthcare claims is through members’ contributions. “When setting the annual contribution increases, we must estimate what is going to happen in the next year, especially against the Covid-19 backdrop and the requirements it will hold in a case of a fourth or fifth infection wave. There are many unknowns, and we have a duty to ensure we can financially cover our members for the years ahead,” says Naidoo. He stresses that Medshield does not have a profit motive, does not pay dividends to shareholders, and always pass the benefit to members from surpluses generated.
“Medshield will keep its contribution increases in the medium and long term at a reasonable level as opposed to going with a smaller increase now and clawing it back with huge future contributions. When applying a member weighted average contribution increase of only 6.3%, we had to consider if we should have a lower increase now, which could result in above 15% increases in the future or to opt for a manageable increase this year and aim for a sustainable single digit increase next year. We had to ensure that we have a smooth consistent steady increase for next year and the year after,” explains Naidoo. In real terms, the monthly contribution increases on MediCurve resulted in a monthly increase of only R87.00 per month per member and R228.00 on MediPlus Prime. Consumers must not only focus on the percentage increase but rather on the actual monthly contributions in rand value.
South Africa has experienced one of the worst economic downturns in the country’s recent history. “The pandemic has caused individuals to cut back on household expenses, making trade-offs between eating out or saving by eating in, and it meant that members had to prioritise medical aid cover over short term insurance,” explains Naidoo.
“At Medshield, like in many companies in our industry, there was trepidation that many of our members would reconsider their cover but with hindsight, one realised in a healthcare pandemic you need medical aid cover, and need to be confidently covered. Since the onset of Covid-19, we have paid more than R500 million in member Covid-19 claims and vaccinated around 40,000 of our members. We also continue to confidently reassure our members that they have always been the driving force behind Medshield. With a firm solutions-focused mindset we looked at how we could assist our members through innovation,” Naidoo says.
The past year saw many member-centric innovations with the launch of MediCurve, a revolutionary digital plan, as a highlight. The efficiencies of technology enabled Medshield to offer it at a very affordable rate and it is now the Scheme’s lowest priced plan. “We built on our SmartCare Digital Healthcare Ecosystem and opened the door for virtual consultations during the pandemic to unlock quicker access to quality healthcare to save lives which can be conveniently accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet from the comfort of your home or private space. We have also enhanced our self-service functionality on the Medshield App and Interactive website for 24/7 self-service to include Virtual GP consultations. Members can also easily manage their day-to-day healthcare through these channels whilst benefiting from our health and wellness portal, Medshield Movement and our loyalty programme,” reflects Naidoo.
Naidoo advocates for a more equitable healthcare system. “In South Africa, the conversation around equality in many boardrooms, households and workplaces is centred around finances, race and gender. Equality extends further into healthcare, and we need to unlock equality in healthcare for all and I believe it is possible through NHI. Building a better country should encompass building a better healthcare system,” says Naidoo. “Unlocking an enabling NHI is a part solution, but it must coexist with private healthcare and medical schemes. South Africans are blessed with the benefit of a world-class private medical sector, on par with first world countries. Our private healthcare sector is a national treasure and, as such, should be protected and nurtured. South Africa should be finding ways to supercharge NHI given that it will benefit the country as a whole,” states Naidoo.
Only 15% of the country’s population is covered by medical schemes due to affordability, but more than 30% of the population access private healthcare. “Our 2022 product design strategy is aimed at addressing some of these affordability and access challenges that we are facing collectively as medical schemes,” concludes Naidoo. Providing access to affordable, quality healthcare is at the heart of what Medshield offers and the Scheme is committed to helping its members live healthier, happier, more fulfilling lives.