Phumelela Dhlomo, GEMS chief marketing officer, gives his response to criticism from Morné Malan, senior researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute.
On 7 November 2019, the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) held a media launch in Cape Town to announce its benefit enhancements and member contribution increases for 2020. The launch was attended by various media houses and stakeholders in government and the healthcare sector. Had Mr Malan been in attendance, he would have received the full picture of the 2020 benefit enhancements, which were explained in great detail. The detailed information shared would have assisted in his media commentary.
One of the major announcements made at the launch was the change in name of the Sapphire option to Tanzanite One, with bigger, better and richer benefits. This is one of the Scheme’s flagship and lowest-cost options for public service employees on salary levels one to five.
Our Sapphire members previously had access to private hospitals, but for limited medical services such as maternity. The other benefit options always had access to private hospitals.
With the evolution to Tanzanite One, members will now enjoy access to both public and private hospital facilities in the GEMS hospital network. This is an extension of the benefits previously enjoyed by members on Sapphire and not an entirely new benefit option.
GEMS’ Trustees and Executive committee remain committed to ensuring that South Africa’s lowest-paid public service employees are not disadvantaged, but have access to primary healthcare, whether from private or state facilities. GEMS continues to work with the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council to enhance member benefits.
We believe that everyone has a right to primary healthcare and we will continue to support the principles of the National Health Insurance (NHI). We are happy to engage further with Mr Malan on the principles of the NHI and provision of primary healthcare coverage especially to the public service employees and vulnerable groups of our country.
SeeGEMS’ private healthcare benefit criticised in light of NHI