Best and worst rated medical aid schemes in South Africa

The latest South African Consumer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi) for medical aid schemes reveals which company medical scheme customers are the most satisfied with.

Now in its fifth year, the SAcsi Benchmark for Medical Schemes – run by research firm Consulta – offers impartial insights into the South African medical schemes industry by blending a Customer Expectations Index, Perceived Quality Index and a Perceived Value Index to achieve an overall result out of 100.

South Africa’s top five medical schemes are included in the industry index: Discovery, Bonitas, Medihelp, Momentum and GEMS. The sample included 1,757 consumers who were randomly selected for inclusion in the 2017 survey.

Consulta CEO and founder, Professor Adré Schreuder, said that the medical schemes industry has one of the lowest overall satisfaction scores compared to other SAcsi surveys, as medical aid is one of South Africans’ most costly monthly expenses.

“Many customers experience poor or low value for money, with many referring to complex rules, exclusions and co-payments. It is often considered a grudge purchase,” said Schreuder.

“Industry premiums increased by around 8 to 10%, which is well above inflation. Expectations around value for money will come under even more pressure when consumers are expected to contribute to the Government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) if it is launched as expected in the coming years,” he said.

The SAcsi survey for medical schemes was not conducted in 2016, with the 2017 data measured against the 2015 and 2014 surveys.

With a SAcsi score of 74.8, Discovery is well in line with the industry average of 74.2 and has improved its score marginally from 74.1 in both 2014 and 2015. Discovery overtook Liberty Health, which had merged with Bonitas during 2016. Medihelp achieved a SAcsi score of 72.6, significantly up from its score of 70.7 in 2015.

Satisfaction by Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) members deteriorated further as members are the least satisifed. Its score fell from 74.3 in 2014 to 64.3 in 2017.

Bonitas scored 73.1, which was 2.1 points down from its 2015 score and almost three points down from its 2014 score of 75.9. Momentum fell to 72.2 from 75.6 in 2015.

“The decline in Bonitas’ score could possibly be attributed to its merger with Liberty Health. It could have put strain on the business as it would be managing a much larger member base,” said Schreuder.

“Medihelp’s recent turnaround strategy seems to be paying off. While it previously offered low premiums, customers were often faced with surprisingly high co-payments. It has since increased premiums and moderated co-payments to make their service more predictable,” he said.

“GEMS, on the other hand, failed to meet its customers’ expectations, evident by the verbatim commentary on complaints and problems experienced by members.”

# Medical aid scheme 2015 score 2017 score Change
1 Discovery 74.1 74.8 +0.7
Industry Average 74.2 74.2
2 Bonitas 75.2 73.1 -2.1
3 MediHelp 70.7 72.6 +1.9
4 Momentum 75.6 72.2 -3.4
5 GEMS 67.5 64.3 -3.2

Discovery announced last week that it would be increasing premiums across all its products by an average of 7.9% in 2018, while Bonitas announced an average increase of 8.7%. Other medical aids are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

Read: Price increase and biggest changes to Bonitas medical aid schemes in 2018

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Best and worst rated medical aid schemes in South Africa