Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Consumers feel they get less value for money from medical schemes than they do with other financial services, such as short term insurance, says research firm Consulta.

Medical scheme members are increasingly frustrated with their rising premiums and shrinking benefits, according to its latest customer satisfaction index, released on Thursday.

The industry average fell from 74.2 last year to 72.7 this year. To put this in perspective, customer satisfaction index scores for short-term insurance are typically in the mid-80s, said Consulta’s project executive PJ Claasens.

Most medical scheme members only perceive the value of their cover when they face serious illness and have to submit claims for a substantial amount of money, he said.

Of the five large medical schemes Consulta surveyed, only Medihelp saw an improved index score, which rose from 72.6 last year to 75.1 this year. Discovery dropped from 74.8 to 73.1 , while Bonitas fell from 73.1 to 70.2 over the period. Momentum maintained its score of 72.0.

Members of the Government Employees Medical Scheme were the least satisfied of all those surveyed, but the scheme, nevertheless, improved its score from 64.3 in 2017 to 68.8 in 2018.

Claasens said Medihelp had improved its standing with its members by investing in better communication with its members, and ensuring it had a stable corps of call-centre staff who could resolve queries efficiently.

Consulta’s customer satisfaction indices use the same methodology as the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which is based on interviews with consumers. The medical scheme customer satisfaction index included interviews with 1,675 randomly selected members of five of SA’s largest schemes, with questions about customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value.