Discovery points to massive increase in cancer claims and the most common types

Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) has published its results for the 2018 calendar year, with some worrying statistics about the rate of cancer incidences in South Africa.

The medical aid scheme said it continues to lead the industry  with a 56.6% share of the open medical scheme market, net growth of over 41,000 people in 2018 and solvency reserves of R17.6 billion.

Hospital admissions contributed the most to total claims costs, with R29.5 billion paid for hospital admissions in 2018, it said.

In 2018, there were 671,016 hospital admissions with an average cost per admission of R43,057.

“In tough economic times and with an increasing concern for our members’ ability to afford contributions, we have nevertheless continued to grow and attract new members,” said chief medical officer of the scheme, Dr Unati Mahlati.

Cancer claims

Discovery raised a red flag about the increase in cancer claims across the country.

“Cancer is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, and its incidence is increasing rapidly for reasons that are not fully understood but which appear to be linked to lifestyle,” it said.

The scheme’s data shows that cancer cases increased by over 45% since 2011, with almost 8,500 new cases in 2018 alone.

As a result, DHMS has seen an increase of over 100% in the costs of oncology-related treatment, from R1.5 billion in 2011 to over R3.6 billion in 2018, it said.

An April 2019 report released by DHMS showed that breast cancer was the most common cancer for the period with 12,148 members claiming for treatment.

Prostate cancer has seen the greatest increase in claimants (9.6%) from the previous period.

Central Nervous System cancer was the most expensive to treat over the period, with a cost of R42,279 per member per month.


Read: Researchers are looking at a uniquely South African cure for cancer

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Discovery points to massive increase in cancer claims and the most common types