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Hubert Khobane
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Forced medical aid membership

04 June 2014, 19:30
The South African Constitution guarantees every citizen of this country ‘freedom of choice’ and not to be discriminated in any way against him/her. However, the government in power is working in exact opposite to this guarantee. 

Government employees are forced to belong to a medical aid scheme put forward by the department they work for, if they approve of that medical aid scheme, or not. Surely they should be given the right of choice as to where their salaries are applied to?

At present, they are forced to accept the medical scheme which the department they work for tells them to use, which is often not the best scheme available on the market. This does not only affect a handful of people. There is an estimated 1.5 million people employed by the South African government. 

Medical aid schemes are exorbitantly high, yet they offer different services to paying members. However, government employees do not have the choice of which medical service they wish to support.

This not only removes the competitive edge between such medical services to provide better services, but removes the choice from employees of which medical aid scheme they wish to use. Within the Correctional Services Department, employees are with the GEMS medical aid; whereas in the SAPS, employees are with Polmed; and within other Departments, employees yet once again to another medical aid scheme. 

The government subsidises the medical aid fees of their employees on condition that these employees use the medical aid schemes the government departments prescribe.

Belonging to any other medical aid, other than the one which allows you to receive a subsidy, disqualifies you from receiving such a subsidy. Discrimination against certain medical aids disqualifies employees from receiving the subsidy is unorthodox.

In any language this amounts to extortion in that one should be able to belong to the same medical aid as anyone else in the civil servants employment. The same benefits should be available to all of the government employees and the same membership fees should apply to them across the board. 

Furthermore, medical aid membership fees with medical aid companies prescribed by government departments are increased annually, yet the benefits that are to be derived from the medical aid do not change. 

Medical aid schemes who are contracted by the government to provide service to government employees have become lax as there is no competition to force them to perform to their best possible ability. 

We call for the freedom of choice on medical aid schemes for government employees which will stimulate competition between medical aid companies, and provide better value for money on the important matter of life sustaining services.

We would appreciate your urgent attention to this matter and reply at the soonest convenient time. 

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