Health

Medshield Medical Scheme supports members with innovation to mitigate the impact of the pandemic

Members remain at the forefront of endeavours

Medshield Medical Scheme has launched its benefit options and contributions for 2022.
Medshield Medical Scheme has launched its benefit options and contributions for 2022.
Image: Supplied/Medshield

We launched our benefit options and contributions for 2022, confirming our commitment to a member-centric approach.

At Medshield Medical Scheme, we are committed to ensuring all members and their dependents receive much-needed quality healthcare. We always ensure members are at the forefront of our endeavours. Annually we adjust and enhance benefits when it matters the most and continue to provide real value to our members.

In light of the severe economic climate caused by Covid-19 over the past 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. 

Medshield has refined its product offering for 2022 to address the gaps raised by brokers, and improve the basket of options for membership growth, including the new affordable hospital plan targeted at sportswomen and men, and low-cost benefit options, both subject to approval by the Council for Medical Schemes.

We have applied a 5.2% enhancement on specified benefits across all options with no benefit cuts while unlocking additional GP consultations for chronic members among others. We have repackaged some benefits for better value and added ease of access to care, including our Medshield Mom and Toddler benefits. 

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 us 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. Medshield does not have a profit motive, does not pay dividends to shareholders, and always passes 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 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 opt for a manageable increase this year and aim for a sustainable single-digit increase next year.

We had to ensure we have a smooth consistent steady increase for next year and the year after. In real terms, the monthly contribution increases on MediCurve resulted in a monthly increase of only R87 per month per member and R228 on MediPlus Prime. Consumers shouldn’t only focus on the percentage increase but rather on the actual monthly contributions in rand value.

SA 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 members had to prioritise medical aid cover over short-term insurance. 

At Medshield, as in many companies in our industry, there was concern that many of our members would reconsider their cover, but with hindsight, in a healthcare pandemic you need adequate medical aid cover. We have paid more than R500m in member Covid-19 claims and vaccinated about 40,000 of our members. We also continue to reassure our members that they are the driving force behind Medshield. With a firm solutions-focused mindset we looked at how we could assist our members through innovation.

About the author: Thoneshan Naidoo is principal officer at Medshield.
About the author: Thoneshan Naidoo is principal officer at Medshield.
Image: Supplied/Medshield

Among the many member-centric innovations, the launch of MediCurve, a revolutionary digital plan, was a highlight. The tech-enabled Medshield was able to offer it at an 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. We 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 while benefiting from our health and wellness portal Medshield Movement and our loyalty programme.

SA needs a more equitable healthcare system. The conversation around equality in many boardrooms, households and workplaces is centred on finances, race and gender. Equality extends further into healthcare, and we need to create equality in healthcare for all, and I believe it is possible through National Health Insurance (NHI).

Building a better country should encompass building a better healthcare system. Unlocking an enabling NHI is a part solution, but it must coexist with private healthcare and medical schemes. South Africans have the benefit of a world-class private medical sector, on par with developed countries. Our private healthcare sector is a national treasure and, should be protected and nurtured. SA should be finding ways to supercharge NHI given that it will benefit all the people in our country.

Only 15% of the country’s population is covered by medical schemes due to affordability, an 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 we are facing collectively as medical schemes. 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 and more fulfilling lives.

This article was paid for by Medshield.