Medical schemes administrator ‘not doing enough’ as regards payment holidays on premiums

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Banks, the National Treasury, the Reserve Bank and the government are all offering relief to South Africans hurt financially by the national lockdown. But the medical aid regulator has not done enough for those cash-strapped South Africans trying to get payment holidays on their premiums.

Financial Mail reports that this is according to experts who say that it’s left some medical aid members struggling to pay their monthly dues. A survey by NGO Rare Diseases SA, for example, found that 47% didn’t know how they would afford their premiums at the end of April.

The report says if medical aid members can’t pay, it could mean a number of people in the private sector will require state care at the exact time the government is trying to keep its hospitals empty to manage the COVID-19 crisis.

The Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), South Africa’s medical aid regulator, has refused a blanket payment holiday for people who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the lockdown, though it has allowed medical schemes to apply for exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

The report says the CMS did not respond to questions, referring instead to an unrelated press release and one of the many circulars it has sent out. Media officer Silindubuhle Mnqeta also declined to answer specific questions about people quitting their medical aids and, as a result, possibly burdening state hospitals.

Full Financial Mail report

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