Medical schemes: what matters most?

Jar of medical savings
Jar of medical savings

What matters to you when you choose your medical scheme?

Health24 surveyed 5,000 readers and discovered that after the burning issue of affordability (73% of us rate the money stuff as “very important”), the single factor most of us look at when we join or change our medical scheme is the question of good and ethical management of the fund. Almost two thirds of respondents (64%) rate good corporate governance as “very important”.

Loyalty programmes, on the other hand, only get a “very important” from 21% of respondents, making these nice add-ons the single least important consideration for most of us. In between come, in order of importance, various financial factors (low annual increase, and availability of employer subsidy); personalised service; the quality of chronic medication plans; the size of the scheme; being serviced in one’s home language; the scheme’s reserve levels and – down there in the early 20s with loyalty schemes – reviews on the internet and recommendations from friends or family.

Who filled in the survey?

The medical schemes survey was run online on Health24 in September 2010. It was sponsored by the open medical scheme Selfmed and attracted over 5,000 responses.

Of the respondents, just over half (53%) are married; and the majority – 71% - live in households of 2-4 people. Just under half earn between R10,000 and R30,000 a month. Most - 78% - have medical scheme cover, with slightly more families belonging to open schemes like Selfmed  or Discovery, than to closed or company/industry schemes like the government scheme Gems or the SAPS scheme Polmed.

Brokers shunned

Among other findings, the survey revealed that despite our anxiety about choosing the right scheme and getting value for money, only 25% of us consult a professional medical scheme broker for advice. The rest of us do our own research, online and elsewhere.

Perhaps because we’re uninformed about the relative costs and benefits of the various options, despite our  money concerns, only 18% of respondents said they limit their thinking to much cheaper hospital plans.

(Heather Parker, Health24, January 2011)

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