Healthcare: the future for brokers

01 October 2007 Adrian Hofman, Health & Accident

The healthcare adviser of tomorrow must be able to offer a complete healthcare solution to their corporate clients, and not only sell a product such as a medical aid option. However, there are some interesting challenges for healthcare brokers that must be successfully navigated.

The various types of brokers who operate in the risk market could be categorised as life brokers, short-term brokers, medical aid brokers and employee benefit brokers. The FSB has broadly categorised the various FAIS requirements into these few categories. A broker who markets medical aid options will generally market their services as healthcare, but when it comes to providing real value in the corporate arena, things are not as simple.

All-round specialist

Many medical aid brokers generally only promote a medical aid option – which is only part of the solution! Diagram 1 illustrates a fairly typical corporate staff complement, indicating the extent of a truly comprehensive solution.

If an adviser is serious about putting forward a healthcare solution to such a corporate client, he or she should be able to advise on all areas of healthcare, from occupational health and medical aid options, including the various co-payment and top-up products, to Group Personal Accident cover, corporate Medical Travel Cover and cover for employees who work abroad on a contract basis (expatriates).

Navigating the legislative maze

Now it gets interesting. To offer advice on occupational health, an adviser does not need to be registered with the FSB. However, Group Personal Accident and Medical Travel Cover are underwritten by short-term insurance companies, as is any other product that offers cover for co-payments applied by medical aid schemes. In order to offer advice on these forms of cover, an adviser does need to be registered with the FSB.

Therefore, for health advisers to offer a comprehensive health risk solution to a corporate client, they need to be registered with the Medical Schemes Council as medical aid brokers, as well as with the FSB as a short-term broker! This is because there is no category for a short-term health and personal accident adviser. So, to offer medical travel, or personal accident, advice, one is required to be knowledgeable in the areas of motor vehicle, household and commercial insurance.

Complexity for brokers and clients

This is the challenge facing the healthcare adviser – offering a comprehensive healthcare solution to corporate clients, while operating in such a complex legal environment. In addition, where does the corporate client go to seek advice regarding their staff health requirements?

On the bright side, it does create opportunities for brokers who face the challenges and position themselves to provide a real, comprehensive solution to corporate clients.

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