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SA vaccine rollout – How will medical schemes be impacted?

As South Africa received the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines that are expected to help the country’s efforts to stem the Covid-19 virus, medical aid umbrella bodies assured members that their medical scheme contributions are safe and will be utilised for their benefit in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a joint statement, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), together with industry representative bodies, the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF), the Health Funders Association (HFA) and non-affiliated medical schemes (the Funders Working Group), have come together to support efforts to provide broader health coverage through effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds of medical schemes are safeguarded by the Medical Schemes Act, which empowers trustees – who govern medical schemes – to act in the best interests of its members.

The CMS is coordinating this public-private sector collaboration to ensure universal access to the vaccine in line with the country’s priorities and individual health needs and therefore, the working group is providing input to the national Department of Health’s vaccine access framework, the group said.

In another statement, the chief executive officer of medical aid scheme Profmed, Craig Comrie, said that he is concerned about how South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine acquisition is going to be funded. He is concerned about the idea that private medical schemes should be required to fund double the cost of their members’ vaccinations by also funding the dose of an uninsured South African for every member they vaccinate.

Comrie said that while Profmed was looking to help fund the vaccines, it could not offer member funds as it was outside their legal and ethical decision-making powers.

“We are all in this together and I can only hope that the ambitious vaccination plan is achieved. As a private medical scheme, I can tell you that we will do everything in our power to contribute to this roll-out constructively, but we only exist because of our members and they will always come first,” Comrie told the media.

Click here to read the Business Report article.

Update: Government has launched the platform that will eventually allow everyone in South Africa to register for a vaccine. Currently, the registration process is exclusively aimed at healthcare workers, but will be expanded to include vaccinees in all other phases of the programme. The platform can be accessed at: https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za

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