Today's Labour News

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MotsoalediBusinessLive reports that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is planning a major shake-up of the medical-scheme industry, with new rules on benefits, prices and governance in the pipeline.  

The changes are contained in the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill as presented to a cabinet committee on Tuesday.  The most crucial aspect of the bill is a proposal to introduce uniform tariffs for services and prohibit co-payments on the part of members.  At present, each scheme negotiates its own rates with service providers such as hospitals and doctors, while members face varying degrees of co-payments for their healthcare bills, depending on which medical-scheme options they belong to and the nature of their conditions.  "There must be a uniform tariff, the same rate for all and they [providers] must ask for nothing from members," the minister said on Wednesday.  The uniform tariff would be to assist medical schemes, which had varying degrees of negotiating power depending on their size.  Guidance on how the uniform tariffs would be determined is expected to come from the Competition Commission’s health-market inquiry.  

The minister said medical schemes would continue to exist as National Health Insurance (NHI) was rolled out, but they required a new regulatory framework to provide greater protection for members.  

A key proposal in the bill is replacing prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs) with a new set of benefits with a greater emphasis on primary healthcare.  The bill contained measures to strengthen board appointments and ensure that they had the appropriate skills for the job.

  • Read this informative report by Tamar Kahn in full at BLPremium (paywall access)

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