Some employers are not waiting for the elusive National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme to improve the health of their workers, absenteeism levels and productivity. Nor are they waiting for the health department and medical scheme regulator the Council for Medical Schemes to hammer out a set of benefits for a low-cost medical scheme option. Instead, about 400,000-450,000 employees have been signed up for primary health-care plans that at least give them access to GPs, medicine, basic blood tests and X-rays in the private sector so they can avoid the time-consuming and inefficient clinics and state hospitals for these services. But it’s a small dent in a potential market of about 8.3-million households. Primary health-care plans typically start at about R240 a month per person, increasing with the number of services covered and insured amounts added for hospital stays or ambulance services after accidents. Newer products developed under occupational health-care legislation, however, ...

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