After protests, CMS agrees to stakeholder engagement on low cost benefit options

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The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), says it will appoint two advisory committees to engage with stakeholders on a low-cost benefit option (LCBO) framework and insurance demarcation issues. According to Rapport, the announcement followed protests by about 300 people at the CMS offices in Centurion on Thursday of last week and numerous appeals by insurers who object to the CMS decision in December that health insurance products will be banned after 31 March 2021.

Kerry Hertzog, of the Healthcare Stakeholders Forum, which organised the protest, says a CMS legal adviser promised a meeting this week with CMS Registrar Sipho Kabane. Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach said they welcomed the decision, but the move doesn’t change anything as the CMS has not retracted its announcements of December. Alexander Forbes Health head Victor Crouser says in their meetings with Kabane last week, he insisted that the demarcation provisions were never meant to be permanent.

Both Discovery and Alexander Forbes say health insurance products offer a way for as many as 500,000 households to access some private healthcare services and should be seen as an important building block for universal healthcare coverage. According to the announcements, stakeholders may nominate members of the committees and make suggestions for the terms of reference until Friday (28 February).

The Healthcare Stakeholders Forum, representing low-income workers who say they will be heavily impacted by the closure of LCBOs say they have been excluded from the process. Fin24 reports that the group marked last week to the regulator’s headquarter in Pretoria.

The group has established a movement called #HANDSOFFLCBO, consisting of civil and non-profit organisations who signed the memorandum demanding the reversal of the CMS’ decision to phase out these health insurance products. However, they were not able to present their memorandum as the registrar, Dr Sipho Kabane, was not available.
The group said they plan to return to the CMS offices this Thursday, having been promised that Kabane will be there.

Meanwhile, the National Treasury and the financial services regulators, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority and the Prudential Authority have also weighed in on the proposed closure of LCBOs.

Full report in Rapport (subscription needed)

Full Fin24 report

See also

Medical schemes appeal CMS scrapping of low-cost benefit packages

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