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Value through choice

01 October 2009 Lee-Ann du Toit, Momentum Health and Multiply

The introduction of an increasing number of innovative new benefits has resulted in a much higher movement of members between schemes.

Traditionally, medical scheme members have not easily changed providers for reasons other than a change in employment. As corporate medical scheme subsidies have shrunk, often replaced with cost-to-company packages, the market has become more fluid.

Choice and innovation

"Financial intermediaries are playing an increasingly important role in advising individuals when choosing health schemes that suit their own medical and financial needs," says Lee-Ann du Toit, Head of Marketing for Momentum Health and Multiply. "The current tougher economic environment has prompted people to really rethink the value that they get for their medical spend, and in this process, schemes who offer choice and innovation are coming out tops."

Members belonging to schemes that offer a provider choice model can save more than 25% on their contributions by opting to use preferred providers, ranging from pharmacies to hospitals and GPs. Members are therefore paying less for the exact same, high-value benefits, simply through making use of the provider choice model. In addition, through complementary health funding products, they can further take ownership of their healthcare and make provision for specific medical financial needs that they may expect to encounter which could exceed the benefits available on their chosen option.

"It makes sense for the consumer to seek out a scheme that offers free preventative care benefits, such as health assessments and annual dental check-ups, without reducing the member's savings," says Du Toit. "This is especially true for young families, who may soon be going through pregnancy and parenthood, as there are schemes that include gynaecologists visits and pregnancy scans in their free preventative care benefits."

Novel features

A particularly novel new feature recently introduced to the medical scheme environment is a Compliance incentive introduced by Momentum, whereby members can earn up to R1 800 per adult per year simply by undergoing a Health Assessment, adhering to prescribed treatment where applicable and being active. Again strengthening consumers to take ownership of their own health, this initiative ties in with the company's wellness programme, Multiply.

Harnessing technology

Technology is another area in which medical schemes are starting to discern themselves. Instant access to information has become a given for many of today's consumers, who often live on the likes of Facebook, Second Life, Wikipedia and Google. Medical scheme members can now access their personal medical information, critical emergency numbers, medical account balances and much more through a digital membership card, hosted on their cellphone.

"We think this type of improved service experience through technology is key to making healthcare more accessible to the consumer," says Du Toit. "Providing value through choice is, in our opinion, the way to ensure that appropriate healthcare remains within the reach of each consumer, according to their individual requirements."

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