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Medical Schemes
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 08:45
Close-knit partners

Bestmed medical scheme says it has recorded significant percentage growth, compared to all open medical aid schemes in the country. In 2006, the scheme occupied the 16th position, and has since experienced consistent growth year on year to secure 7th position.

“Almost 50 years ago, the company had a vision of assisting the nation joining the scheme with access to quality healthcare at affordable prices. Our largest corporate clients then included the University of Pretoria, Unisa, CSIR, Medical Research Council, and by 1968 we had a total of 9 450 members. Today, our client-intimacy approach and service excellence strategies to enhance our clients’ way of living, have earned us the reputation as one of the most stable schemes, underpinned by integrity, know how, and service etiquette with empathy for others,” says Elnarie Hendricks, Distribution Manager at Bestmed.
Most of its corporate members have been with the scheme since inception. “We have established and maintained close-knit partnerships with our members and service providers with strong representation that ensures members’ interests are represented through the scheme’s trustees, elected by them. It is for this reason that we have not been linked with any governance irregularities,” says Hendricks.
Bestmed’s reserve ratio has remained above the 25% industry standard for 10 years now. “In 2012 the scheme increased its reserves to R750 million, while growing its membership to 73 715 principal members and retaining a solvency of 29%. Our rand amount per member is the highest among the top 13 schemes that have 30 000 or more members. It is not often that these ratios are maintained when schemes grow. However, Bestmed has kept both its financial viability and organic growth healthy to ensure a strong, trustworthy and competitive scheme,” she says.
Bestmed’s strong financial base and reserve levels allow the scheme to ensure that contribution increases are protected against spiralling healthcare. “These statistics mean that our members experience peace of mind, knowing that their claims will always be covered, and their benefits are guaranteed, thus ensuring retention and attraction of new members,” she adds.
According to a study conducted by the Health Systems Trust, (1995) only 18% of South Africa’s population had access to private healthcare through medical aid schemes. This low figure is not unique to South Africa – even developed countries see the same trend, due to socio-economic factors and other reasons.
Between 1994 and 2006, the number of medical schemes declined from 170 to 124 in the country. Currently, there are over 100 medical schemes, 26 of which are open schemes. The economic recession played a role in some schemes’ closures. Smaller schemes were taken over by stronger and more stable ones.
Comments Sasja La Grange, Corporate Communications Manager, “Bestmed kept its head above the water when times were tough. Despite the decrease in the number of schemes, membership increased considerably over the years. We have acquired some schemes to strengthen our base and this strategy still continues. We are currently talking to potential companies with which we can merge, and if these transactions are successful, our presence in this industry will strengthen further.”
The scheme’s strategic focus is to strengthen its current achievements by creating a sustainable business that will benefit all its members, as well as enhance relationships with service providers to ensure access to quality healthcare. La Grange points out that Bestmed pioneered wellness programmes in the workplace. Due to the competitiveness of this industry, and in order to realise the scheme’s strategy, focus will be put on its wellness programme to build on its four pillars, namely: Be Active; Be Nutri-wise; Be Safe and Be Happy. We aim to assist corporates ensure that healthy living will translate into their businesses’ healthy bottom line and healthy employees”, comments La Grange.”
Recently, Bestmed invested in improving its digital platforms, which includes the launch of its new website that acts as a dedicated portal for members and other stakeholders to provide updated information on the various programmes and benefit options. The webmail service gives members a summary of their registered chronic medicine and conditions, as well as the three most recent claims received and assessed via email.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:26.5 1st May, 2013
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