Medical aid trustees paid big bucks

2012-09-05 00:00

THE Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) cannot stop medical aid schemes from paying exorbitant fees to their trustees.

This is why members of medical aid schemes should attend their schemes’ annual general meetings where they can query these payments.

This was the advice given yesterday by Craig Burton-Durham, head of legal services at the CMS.

He was speaking at the release of the annual report of the CMS in Pretoria, which lists 10 medical aid schemes whose trustees receive the most money in total.

Liberty topped the list. Its nine trustees received on average R703 000 each in 2011/12, followed by Medshield, whose 11 trustees averaged R422 000 each.

Discovery Health’s nine trustees received an average of R257 000 each.

Stephen Mmatli, of the CMS section tasked with ensuring that medical schemes comply with medical legislation, said the Medical Schemes Act did not make direct provision for controlling trustee fees.

Burton-Durham said these payments were approved at AGMs.

Sometimes so few members attended these meetings that the amounts were not strongly queried.

The CMS is now developing guidelines for trustees’ payments.

Part of the R6,3 million that Liberty paid its trustees was apparently a “golden handshake” to Boyce Mkhize, who resigned last year.

It is believed the CMS is taking legal action in this regard.

Mmatli said the trustees were meant to have an attitude of voluntary service, but the issue was complex, because trustees nowadays realised that there were risks associated with these positions.

They could be held liable for decisions that had disastrous financial consequences for their schemes.

According to the annual report there were 95 medical aid schemes still in existence in March this year, compared with 99 the year before and 144 in 2000.

The reduction was mainly due to the amalgamation of smaller schemes with larger ones.

More than 8,5 million South Africans belonged to medical aid schemes in 2011/12, which is 2,5% more than in the previous year.

The CMS received 4 067 complaints about medical aid schemes, more than half of those because medical schemes had failed to pay prescribed medical benefits in full.

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