Article provided by Bonitas Medical Fund
Access to quality healthcare is top of mind for many South Africans, particularly after the COVID pandemic. Lee Callakoppen, Principal Officer of Bonitas Medical Fund South discusses the advantages of belonging to a medical aid for both the owners of SMMEs and their employees.
‘There are 17 open medical schemes in South Africa, each with their own set of plans and benefits,’ says Callakoppen, ‘so it can be confusing trying to decide on what is best for you, your family and your employees in terms of making sure you have the right healthcare cover you need and can afford. We advise consulting a broker to help you navigate your way through the various options and plans before making the final decision and commitment.’
Remember you will be an employer of choice if you offer employees a medical scheme as part of the remuneration package. Compulsory membership assures the employer that their employees will have access to private healthcare in the event of major life-threatening medical events. This not only means that the employee will have access to quality healthcare but also lowers the risk of employees having to take loans and salary advancements for medical expenses.
However, it’s important to make sure that the medical aid you want to join offers additional services when joining as a collective, rather than an individual. Ensure that your SMME benefits from:
- Favourable underwriting concessions, usually for groups of 10 or more.
- That there is a dedicated Key Accounts Manager allocated to your group.
- The billing system is integrated to ensure ease of administration for you and your employees.
- There is one-on-one ongoing member support through an on-site help desk.
- That during the ‘open season’ at the end of the year (when you make decisions about the year ahead in terms of any changes to plans), your group benefits from education and option change assistance.
- That you will have access to mid-year concession (where applicable). This relates to assisting with changing plans during the year.
- There is ongoing member education and option benefits aligned to the annual Health Calendar (Cancer awareness, heart disease, diabetes, lifestyle diseases and mental health).
- Wellness screening is offered as part of the plan, as well as individual, confidential employee health profile reports to allow your employees to manage and take charge of their health.
‘In the case of Bonitas, SMMEs will also benefit from Wellness Day screening offering on site,’ says Callakoppen. These comprises of carefully selected tests to help you get a clear picture of your health and is the first step in detecting serious chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
Bonitas offers a free wellness screening for each member, once a year, across all its plans. This includes:
- A blood pressure test
- A blood glucose test
- A cholesterol test
- A BMI test, and
- A waist-to-hip ratio measurement
This can be done virtually through the Bonitas App or at any participating pharmacy or at a wellness day.
Different plans for different needs
Everyone has different healthcare needs and to accommodate these medical schemes offer a variety of plans. The decision on which works best for you will be based on what you need in terms of medical cover. For example: Younger employees need to consider an option that will have added maternity benefits and cover childhood immunisation; someone older might want to look for added screening options whereas a healthy employee might be happy to have a hospital plan that covers them for in-hospital procedures and emergencies.
Bonitas offers the following plans
We believe ‘one size doesn’t fit all’ so we offer members a choice of cover from 15 plans – in five categories – which include:
- Traditional options
- Savings options
- Hospital options
- Network options
- Newly introduced Edge Options
‘Often schemes include additional benefits and these need to be taken into consideration as they help stretch your medical benefits and save on costs,’ explains Callakoppen. ‘This year we introduced a Benefit Booster that anyone can access once they have completed the wellness screening. The Benefit Booster – which ranges from an additional R940 to R2 739 depending on the plan – can be used to pay for out-of-hospital day-to-day services (such as blood tests, over the counter medicine and GP consultations) or a programme to stop smoking.’
Prevention is definitely better than cure – especially when it comes to your health. Make sure the scheme or plan you choose offers a preventative care benefit that will help detect serious illnesses early so that the necessary steps can be implemented to stay healthy. These can include flu vaccines, HIV tests, lipograms, mammograms, pap smears, prostrate screening, pneumococcal vaccines, bone density screening and stool tests for colon cancer.
‘Our members are from all walks of life – they are go-getting entrepreneurs, SMMEs, chief executive officers, newlyweds, young couples with children, retirees and minimum wage earners,’ explains Callakoppen. ‘Our 15 plans are carefully designed to meet their different healthcare needs. We work with corporates of all sizes, helping business owners have peace of mind when it comes to making sure they have a healthy and productive workforce.’