All major medical aid schemes to cover the full cost of vaccinations for members

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South Africans who are covered by medical aid will soon be able to get vaccinated with zero costs incurred.

The Board of Healthcare Funders recently confirmed that all major medical aid schemes, regardless of their membership size, are expected to cover 100% of the costs for their clients when the vaccination rollout begins.

Speaking to Reuters, Ryan Noach, chief executive of the country’s largest medical scheme administrator, Discovery Health said that under this arrangement, medical schemes will also pay above cost for vaccinations for their members by subsidising procurement for another 7 million adults who are without private medical cover.

According to Noach, the cost to medical schemes of buying the vaccines could reach a maximum of R7 billion but could also much less. With R7 billion representing less than 2% of gross annual premiums, Noach said it was “completely digestible.”

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Since non-coronavirus related healthcare was drastically reduced during the pandemic, Noach noted that many medical schemes ended 2020 with large surpluses, “What’s important is the funding is there, and we’ve got to secure offtake of the vaccines,” Noach told Reuters. “It made sense from both humanitarian and economic angles in that it would save lives and cost far less than another national lockdown.”

Apart from the agreement with medical schemes, the government plans to source vaccines for 10% of the population via the COVAX Facility and is talking to large local businesses about contributing funds towards the remaining vaccines it needs to procure.

To date, South Africa has already paid a deposit of R283-million to the COVAX programme to secure 12-million vaccinations (covering 10% of the population). Another 1.5-million vaccines will be procured from AstraZeneca and another 9-million from Johnson&Johnson.

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