Discovery announces price hike for medical scheme members

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Discovery's headquarters in Sandton (Boogertman and Partners)
Discovery's headquarters in Sandton (Boogertman and Partners)

After freezing its medical aid contributions at the same level for the first half of the year, Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) has announced a 5.9% increase across all its options from 1 July 2021.

Last year, the Council for Medical Schemes recommended that medical aids freeze their price hikes for 2021 or limit their increases to around inflation, which is currently above 4%.

This was to "insulate members facing financial hardship" during the pandemic, the CMS said. Medical schemes could afford lower contribution hikes, after saving billions in claims last year as South Africans avoided doctor visits, non-urgent medical procedures and other healthcare treatments during the pandemic.

Discovery itself reported last year that it saw 51% fewer mammograms during April to July, compared to 2019. In the same period, there was a fall of 51% in the number of members who registered for depression.  

The medical scheme now has an accumulated a capital reserve of approximately R27 billion.

Discovery contends that, for the year, its weighted average annual increase works out to 2.95% - given that the 5.9% increase followed six months of 0% increase.

This is the lowest weighted average contribution increase among open medical schemes and well within the Council for Medical Scheme’s guidelines, the company said in a statement.

"The 5.9% increase is an important decision to align member contributions to real healthcare costs, placing DHMS in an ideal position to offer an affordable contribution increase for the upcoming benefit year in 2022, and beyond," said Dr Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery Health.

DHMS is allowing its members a once-off opportunity to upgrade their plans mid-year. The deadline for upgrade requests is 15 June.

In addition, members whose plans include a medical savings account (MSA) will benefit from an aligned 5.9% additional funds in their medical savings account from 1 July, following the mid-year contribution increase. There will be no changes to limits, deductibles, co-payments and thresholds, which were already increased during January 2021.

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