Bestmed Celebrates Half a Century

02 July 2014 Bestmed

  •    From 9 450 principal members in its first four years, to nearly 190 000 beneficiaries today
  •    Growth and financial strength
  •    Only scheme to grow by close on 20% in one year – Industry generally grows by 1% per annun

Bestmed, one of South Africa’s five largest schemes, celebrates its 50th anniversary in July. From 9 450 principal members in its first four years to nearly 190 000 beneficiaries today, the scheme has marked a huge milestone. 

 “We have come a long way, and are proud to say that we have become a major player in the healthcare industry. Our pioneering spirit and member intimacy approach have seen us become the first medical scheme to grow by nearly 20% in just one year. Our success is also attributable to the fact that we recognised that members’ healthcare needs vary, depending on age, marital status, member responsibilities and priorities. We developed benefits that are structured to suit different healthcare needs, hence placing our members’ needs as top priority has contributed to our success over the years,” comments Dries La Grange, Bestmed CEO. 

La Grange adds that Bestmed has managed to secure a successive membership of three generation, which is a legacy of true trust. “We see our members not just as clients or customers but as part of the Bestmed family, which underpins our strategy of invest in communities and the country as a whole. We are not 50 years old; we are 50 years young and look forward to the next 50.” 

Bestmed’s continuous growth can be further attributed to the inspiration drawn from their company vision, which focuses on lifestyle and preventative healthcare benefits, and providing an offering that is unique to the market.

Bestmed has created a balance between wellness and health. Previously, they assisted their members in getting the right treatment and medication but now their focus is on educating members on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Bestmed places a great deal of emphasis on its wellness philosophy, based on 5 basic pillars, encouraging members to Be Active, Be Safe, Be Nutri-Wise, Be Happy and Be Fin-Wise. This is the foundation of a healthy and fulfilled life. 

Furthermore, La Grange says that as with any industry, the private healthcare sector became more competitive, and it was time to revisit and revise the strategy, modernise the brand, and become a medical scheme that would be aspirational to attract a younger membership. “We also integrated our service provider strategy to deliver access to quality healthcare. Our Bestmed GP network is now in place, progress with specialists is at an advanced stage and engagement with allied professionals is progressing well.” 

Growth and Financial Strength 

Bestmed’s growth strategy over the past recent years has been two-pronged – organic growth and amalgamations with smaller schemes with common values. In the past financial year, Bestmed grew from 73 715 principal members and 154 222 beneficiaries to 88 814 principal members and 185 750 beneficiaries. The scheme concluded two successful amalgamations during 2013 with Sappi Medical Aid Scheme and Minemed Medical Scheme. Bestmed’s first amalgamation took place in 2008, with the acquisition of the CSIR’s medical scheme, followed in 2010 by TeleMed. 

Bestmed, in its 50th year, still maintains a solvency ratio higher than the industry standard. It currently has a reserve fund of R969 505 and a solvency ratio of 26.80%. 

La Grange says that with growth comes challenges, which Bestmed along with other medical aid schemes have experienced over the last few years. Rising costs and the rapid rise of medical inflation remain a primary concern. “Our biggest challenge lies in managing these costs so that we can remain affordable for our members, while at the same time keeping the business sustainable,” comments La Grange.

Quick Polls


As National Treasury mulls a two-bucket retirement system, mandatory contributions and preservation, regulation 28 is being amended to allow up to 40% of retirement fund assets to be invested in SA-based infrastructure… Which of the following retirement fund ‘tweaks’ would you consider most beneficial to your clients?


Give fund members emergency access to retirement savings
Let fund members invest 40% in infrastructure
Let fund members invest 40% offshore
Mandatory preservation when resigning from a fund
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