Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  15 Nov 2010

MANAGEMENT: Choose Your Medical Aid Wisely


Recent Western Cape Business News

WITH year-end approaching, corporate decision-makers are facing yet another challenging review of employees’ medical aid scheme. “In order to ensure that your employees are well served you need to ascertain that the scheme has consistently produced well above average result” says Marthie Bester, marketing and operations director of Cape Town-based Selfmed.

In a period of industry upheaval it is best to select a medical scheme that has shown consistency in its performance. If belonging to a medical scheme is a condition of employment and, while most corporates do pay a percentage of contributions, when a scheme collapses the employees are left with 100% of unpaid bills. This places even more pressure on the HR managers choosing their employees’ medical scheme.

Be vigilant not only about the cost of benefits but also make sure your scheme provides overall stability and excellent service. Combine these factors with constant, sustained and controlled improvement in schemes operations, reputation for prompt payouts and you can rest assured that the talent you want to attract and retain will be satisfied.

Selfmed Medical Scheme has a long history that stands up to the severest scrutiny. Founded 45 years ago, it is an open medical scheme and is one of only a few to have joined the Ethics Institute of South Africa.”

There is no substitute for the lessons we have learned through own experience. Serving our members since 1965, we have faced many challenges, yet, through sound and dedicated management succeeded in overcoming all obstacles and to this day continue to stand our ground providing stability to its members,” Bester says.

Our solvency levels are well in excess of legislative requirements and the scheme’s favourable financial position offers members financial stability, security and peace of mind.” Bester attributes the scheme’s financial strength to the diligence and active participation of its board of trustees.

She explains that by law all schemes need to ensure a minimum 25% solvency level. Should a scheme not manage to maintain its reserves at this level, the fund may be placed under review, changes invoked to benefits and contributions and, in extreme cases, the fund might be placed under curatorship. Schemes that are in financial distress tend to cut benefits and raise contributions. “This is when you find the younger members bailing out leaving the older more vulnerable ones to bear the brunt of a difficult situation. Often the only solution is to merge with another scheme or to dissolve the scheme leaving members with unpaid medical bills. The resultant undesirable situation, which occurred to a number of schemes, is often laid at the door of the employer because employees expect their managers to do their homework thoroughly and make the right choice when selecting the company medical scheme”, she warns.

Because there is little difference between the basic offering of benefit options between the various medical schemes, service coupled with stability are increasingly becoming the distinguishing factors when choosing a medical scheme.

Our value statement comprises only four words- simplicity, sincerity, security and service- yet the importance and true meaning of these words are entrenched in the culture of how we conduct our business. Selfmed members know that we are transparent in our service and will provide them stability that they can rely on regardless of our volatile industry. Selfmed has announced single digit contribution increases for 2011 with enhancements in most benefits. “Adding to our stable track record is the fact that we are one of only a few schemes that never had an interim increase during our existence,” Bester says.

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