The best medical aid schemes in SA — GTC’s 2018 survey

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HealthcareThe latest GTC Medical Aid Survey for 2018 has been released, which compares local medical aid schemes on cost to members across various levels of cover. Business Tech reports that the survey analyses and rates medical aid schemes according to a standardised comparison and ranks the choices available to members.

When analysed purely in terms of premiums – the survey’s micro ranking – Fedhealth emerged as the medical aid which held the most top positions across all the classifications.

The report says Discovery Health was ranked in first place for the survey’s macro rankings, which analyses a medical aid’s overall ‘health’ and longevity in terms of factors such as its solvency level, membership growth, net healthcare result and member satisfaction. When combining both the GTC micro and macro rankings, Discovery claimed the highest number of top positions among all categories – for the second consecutive year since the survey’s release eight years ago.

“While the overall results appear to tell a similar story to last year, it is encouraging – when drilling down into the details – to see such a variety of participants offering options across all sub-sections of the medical aid spectrum, meaning consumers can confidently access more schemes and plans offering private healthcare, and so decrease the burden on the government.

“In the past, the larger and more established companies tended to dominate the majority of the categories,” said Jill Larkan, head: healthcare consulting, of wealth and financial advisory firm GTC.

The report says Larkan ascribed this to companies becoming more innovative in their offerings in an attempt to differentiate themselves. “We always welcome more competition among schemes, as it indicates a growing market and more variety for members with changing healthcare needs. However, this does add more complexity to a healthcare arena that is already difficult to navigate for the majority of members.”

According to Larkan, this year’s survey proved again that the medical aid market continues to be a complicated space to navigate. “What is worrisome is that many of the plans attempt to attract members concerned with the high cost of healthcare, by offering ‘manageable premiums’, perceived to be of good value, which in fact have far fewer benefits than their more ‘traditional’ counterparts.

“It is now more important than ever for members not only to look at price – which remains the most important consideration for many members under ever increasing financial strain – whilst also considering which benefits they are forfeiting for their lower premium,” Larkan said.

The report says this year’s survey reviewed 21 open schemes and one closed scheme (Profmed) covering 22 plans divided into five categories, eight subcategories and three micro categories. Many of these were further split between network and non-network schemes, whilst some of them go on to reflect day-today spending levels. The full range of plans have been graded according to GTC’s ‘likelihood of support’ and offers a simplified method of comparing options and cost for members.

Larkan explains that, in addition to factoring in complaints received from members on social media sites such as Hellopeter.com – as an indication of members’ satisfaction with their medical aids – this year’s macro grading also took into account the compliments that schemes received, as well as the Hello Peter Index.

The report says Bonitas moved up seven places in the macro rankings as a result of Liberty’s members being amalgamated into the Bonitas scheme. “This greatly enhanced the number of members on the scheme, which carries the highest weighting in the GTC macro rankings. The long-term effect of this amalgamation on measures such as net healthcare results will remain to be seen in the next year, when the claiming patterns of the new members are experienced in the Bonitas scheme.”

Business Tech report

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