As the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 rise every day in SA, many people are wondering whether they’ll get adequate medical attention should they be diagnosed with the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease.

Medshield Medical Scheme says the scheme aims to continue offering excellent support to members during this difficult and uncertain time and calls for a collaborative approach in the interest of health and wellness for all South Africans. 

Thoneshan Naidoo, principal officer of Medshield Medical Scheme, says: “At Medshield, our vision is ‘caring about you towards a healthier nation’, and in challenging times like these it is now more important than ever that we come together to fulfil our vision.” 

With a solvency ratio of 41% (significantly higher than the mandatory 25% and considerably higher than most of the competing open schemes), Medshield is well placed to meet the demands of increased hospitalisation and heightened burden of care due to Covid-19.

Last year, Medshield Smartcare, powered by Healthforce, was launched — a clinic practice management system that offers Videomed, a nurse-led telemedicine system — at no extra cost to its members.

Says Naidoo: “We have prepared our business continuity plans to maintain the high levels of service that our members expect from us. This is not a selective crisis: Covid-19 is a national crisis and we all need to work together. We are proud of our president and government’s swift action to mitigate the effect of this crisis. We are all taking strain economically, but we can always resuscitate a strained economy, but we can never resuscitate the dead bodies of our people. We are in this together and we need to overcome this crisis together.”

Thoneshan Naidoo, principal officer of Medshield Medical Scheme. Picture: SUPPLIED/MEDSHIELD
Thoneshan Naidoo, principal officer of Medshield Medical Scheme. Picture: SUPPLIED/MEDSHIELD

The scheme ensures continued access to care for its members and their holistic wellbeing, particularly with the onset of the flu season. “We are at the onset of the seasonal flu and with the Covid-19 effect, it’s more important than ever, especially for high-risk members, to get the flu vaccine, which is available at Medshield pharmacy network providers, Clicks pharmacies and selected Medshield SmartCare clinics,” says Naidoo.

As more people are tested for the virus, the issue of whether a medical scheme will cover the diagnosis and/or treatment of Covid-19, becomes a concern. Medshield has embraced the cover for Covid-19 as a prescribed minimum benefit (PMB) before it became the norm to cover Covid-19 as a PMB when a diagnosis is positive. PMBs are predetermined conditions that a scheme covers under its benefit offering.

When visiting a health care professional, or being tested for the Covid-19 virus, the costs will be paid from your day-to-day/savings limit (depending on your chosen benefit option), whether the diagnosis is positive or negative. If the test is positive, Medshield will cover the diagnosis, treatment and care costs from the risk benefit pool as a PMB, irrespective of your chosen benefit option. In other words, these costs will not be paid from your current 2020 benefits.

It’s important for all members of the public to adhere to the rules announced by the president and the standards of the World Health Organisation. “The decisive measures announced by our president best explains the importance of preventive measures such as social distancing and its role in slowing down the effect of the virus,” says Naidoo.

Medshield has organised for members to access their current doctors via remote consultation (telephonic and video) — without having to consult physically in the doctors’ rooms.

Technology and embracing the 4IR can play a critical role in ensuring members are more empowered to take care of their health while lowering barriers to affordable, quality healthcare and increasing convenience to members.

Technology and embracing the fourth industrial revolution can play a critical role in ensuring members are more empowered to take care of their health while lowering barriers to affordable, quality health care and increasing convenience to members.

“Medshield SmartCare has paved the way for the adoption of telemedicine in SA. Sustainable partnerships with clinics and pharmacies allows a member to see a nurse who will conduct an initial assessment based on the patient’s needs and, if necessary, dial up a GP who does a virtual consultation. Together they will decide on how you should be treated and give you guidance,” he says.

Since this programme’s launch in July 2019 it has received very positive feedback as it is not only convenient but it puts the trust back into health care and, more recently, is a way of accessing a GP during the current Covid-19 lockdown period.

“High-risk members who get infected with the virus are likely to require critical health care, but through the preventative and social distancing measures we are practising, the timing of their health care intervention could be staggered over a longer time frame of three to six months.

“This allows our health care system to better cope with the demand of the critically ill at the right time, resulting in overall better and healthier outcomes for all. We need to do what is right and work together as the complete health value chain, not only looking after our own bit,” says Naidoo.

With a history that dates back over 51 years, the scheme is driven by its mission to provide access to affordable high-quality health care through partnerships at very competitive prices in comparison to the market.

Medshield confirmed its position as a transparent and sensible supporter of national initiatives to provide greater access to quality health care for all South Africans especially during this pandemic.

This article was paid for by Medshield.

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