Brokers make the difference
With about 75 medical schemes available in SA, and numerous benefit options to choose from, selecting a medical scheme and an appropriate plan can be somewhat bewildering.
CEO and principal officer of CompCare Medical Scheme Josua Joubert recommends that consumers do their research carefully.
“This is where enlisting the advice of a registered healthcare broker can make all the difference,” he says, adding that as the industry continues to evolve, it will become increasingly more important to obtain professional advice.
For most brokers, however, medical aids are not a priority. In fact, medical aid brokers have been on a losing streak for years now, says certified financial planner Dawn Ridler. “On paper the commission is the same as other policies 3%
which is capped at R90 a month. In addition to this they have to pay an annual fee to the Council for Medical Schemes just to operate, unlike any other insurance speciality.”
General or holistic brokers may still sell medical aid policies, she says, but this is really in the spirit of offering a comprehensive service to their clients rather than because it is financially viable.
“Most medical aid brokers focus on corporate medical aids, typically just offering one provider, as this is the only way to make it financially viable.”
Medical aid broking, she adds, is administratively intensive. “However, someone has to do the work and if it isn’t the broker it will be the medical aid which won’t provide any cost saving. Killing the medical aid broker is just moving around the costs. The massive escalation in the cost of medical aid has not been caused by the cost of the broker.”
Choosing the right medical aid, or even the right plan within the medical aid, isn’t easy, says Ridler, but it is something that clients have increasingly had to do on their own, and this is only going to get worse.
Discovery Health’s Deon Kotze maintains that brokers have a fundamentally important role in advising individuals on the appropriate medical scheme product to meet their medical and financial needs.
“Growing cost pressures make it important consumers consult their broker if they are contemplating any change to their cover,” he says. “Since this often involves a choice between different medical schemes brokers, it ensures a healthy level of competition for the benefit of clients.”