Bonitas Medical Fund has announced that their contribution increase for 2018 will be a weighted increase of 8.7%, with increases on the various options ranging from 7.9% to 9.9%.

Despite increasing healthcare inflation and economic pressures in the past year, cost-containment initiatives have enabled Bonitas to keep the weighted average contribution in single figures for 2018.

Money saved through strategic measures resulted in a reduction in the overall net deficit experienced by the Fund, reducing it from R205.5 million in 2015 to R16.9 million in 2016. The Fund also recently announced that its reserves have been bolstered to R3.1 billion and it has also seen a significant growth in membership.

“As one of the largest and most stable medical schemes in South Africa, our mission is to make quality healthcare more affordable and more accessible. We have, therefore, focused on balancing costs while ensuring our members continue to receive rich benefits,” said Principal Officer at Bonitas, Gerhard Van Emmenis.

“Last year, we successfully concluded the largest amalgamation in the industry with LMS Medical Fund. This will continue to have a favourable impact on our membership as a whole, as a larger scheme is in a better position to negotiate tariffs in favour of our members,” continued Van Emmenis.

The relatively low increase has not led to a reduction of benefits but rather an enhancement. “We’ve looked at the needs of our members and South Africa as a whole to introduce several new benefits in 2018. This includes a benefit for contraceptives and a mental wellness programme, among others,” said Van Emmenis.

“Increases are unfortunately inevitable given the high healthcare costs and inflation but we strive to keep premiums as affordable and accessible for all. Some of the benefits have been tweaked, others increased but all aimed at helping members take control of their health and lead better lifestyles and with South African socioeconomic factors in mind,” continued Van Emmenis.

Some of the new benefits for 2018 include:

Mental health

A Mental Wellness programme has been developed and will be made available in 2018 to identified beneficiaries on four plans. It provides access to specialised mental health doctors as well as education on managing the condition and support for loved ones too.

More benefits for families

Earlier this year Babyline was introduced, the first dedicated toddler’s health advice line to its members.  In 2018, further benefits will be made available for Bonitas babies, including screening for congenital hypothyroidism for newborns under a month old across on all options. Screening all newborns for hearing loss is internationally recommended and these tests will also be covered on all options (in or out-of-hospital).

A focus on wellness and preventative care

The Wellness Extender benefit has been increased by 15% to give members access to more consultations with a GP, dietician or biokineticist or cover for a programme to stop smoking.

Pap smears for women over 21 years will now be covered on BonEssential and BonCap, once every three years and mammograms for women over 40 will be covered once every two years on BonSave and Primary to strengthen the preventive care benefits on offer.

PMBs – making benefits last longer

In previous years, out-of-hospital tests and specialist consultations for the management of Prescribed Minimum Benefit conditions (PMBs) were paid for from day-to-day benefits first on Standard, Standard Select and Primary. In 2018, cover for PMBs will be paid for solely from risk – allowing members to get maximum value for money and stretch their day-to-day benefits.

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