picture: 123RF/HONGQI ZHANG
picture: 123RF/HONGQI ZHANG

Q: I joined Discovery Health in 2006 via a company-approved broker. If I recall correctly he disclosed that he would earn R70 a month from my contribution. I would be interested to know whether this broker, whose name I cannot recall, is still taking a portion of my contribution 14 years later for doing precisely zero. For how long is he entitled to earn a commission and if he is still earning, can I stop him? If I wanted to track him down, could Discovery give me his details? If he stops earning from my membership, would there have been an adjustment to my contribution? Do I have to use a broker in future to join a medical scheme? How does a person become a broker and what qualifications do they need to do so? — Margie via e-mail 

A: Jill Larkan, head of healthcare at GTC replies.

It is likely that your broker is still earning commission on your medical scheme contribution each month, unless you made a change to the appointed broker.

Your broker can earn up to the legislated maximum amount as he remains your broker. The Council for Medical Scheme advises how much the maximum should be each year — it is now 3% of your contributions plus VAT to a maximum of R98.85 plus VAT. 

Your scheme will be able to give you his details, as long he continues to be an accredited broker with Discovery. If you want to cancel his appointment as your broker, you will need to advise Discovery directly.

Your contribution will not be adjusted if you cancel the broker’s services as contributions are the same regardless of whether the scheme pays a broker or not. 

You are not obliged to use a broker to join a scheme, though it is often a good idea as medical schemes are complicated and members often choose the wrong plan and then complain because it does not pay for things they need covered. If your broker has not been contacting you, find one who will offer to meet you annually.

Most companies have a professional broker/brokerage appointed, who guides members and assists them in selecting the most appropriate plan.

To practice, a broker needs to meet certain requirements to ensure they are fit and proper to give you advice — this includes having certain qualifications and experience as well as meeting ethical and honesty standards and having no criminal record. 

The broker also needs accreditation from the Council for Medical Schemes and accreditation from each medical scheme with which they are registered. A matric plus four years study in the right field will get you qualified and then a number of years of relevant experience before you are allowed to give advice.

Though a broker may only spend an hour with you to assess your requirements, they have to meet ongoing, continuous, professional development requirements and the accreditation standards for each scheme each year. They also need to do comparisons, track new trends, refine recommendations and so on, before they can advise you regarding which scheme would best suit you and your family. 

As you do not incur any direct cost, we highly recommend that you make use of their professional services at the very least on an ongoing annual basis.

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