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More high medical scheme increases


  / 03 October 2015 at 07:05am

By: Laura du Preez

Four large open medical schemes have announced contribution increases for next year close to or above 10 percent.

Bonitas Medical Fund, the second largest open medical scheme in the country, announced an average increase of 10.9 percent across all its options, while Bestmed has announced its average gross contribution increase of 9.8 percent.

Members of Liberty Medical Scheme, will face contribution increases of an average 9.9 percent and Medihelp members an average of 9.4 percent, Alexander Forbes Healthcare reports.

These increases follow average increases of 8.6 percent announced late last month by Discovery Health Medical Scheme and Momentum Health Medical Scheme.

All the increases are significantly above inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index, currently running at 4.6 percent.

Alexander Forbes Healthcare reports that Bonitas increases range from 10.5 percent to 11.6 percent. On Medihelp they range from seven percent to 11.8 percent. Bestmed says its increases range from 9.39 percent to 11.89 percent across the options.

Dr Bobby Ramasia, the principal executive officer of Bonitas Medical Fund, says that while Bonitas’s increases are slightly higher than last year, they come during a particularly challenging time.

Schemes have been unable to attract young, healthy people to join, while expenditure on claims continues to increase at more than 11 percent annually. At the same time, there have been steep increases in the cost of specialists and hospitals, which account for more than 61 percent of claims, he says.

Ramasia says schemes such as Bonitas also face higher-than-average exposure to the costs of increasingly prevalent conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

He says Bonitas has introduced three new options. Its Standard Select option will offer similar benefits to its Standard option, but with cheaper contributions. Members will have to use hospitals and doctors in a network.

There is a new affordable option for younger members and their families, and Bonitas will also introduce a low-cost option offering primary (day-to-day) health care only in line with what the Council for Medical Schemes has put in place for these low-cost options.