The Medical Schemes Amendment Bill has been gazetted for public comment, setting in motion a potentially contentious debate between the government, industry and consumer groups over how best to protect patients from catastrophic medical expenses. Briefing reporters ahead of the release of the bill, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the changes were intended to give greater protection to medical scheme members and ensure more of their monthly premiums was spent on healthcare, rather than broker fees or accumulating medical scheme reserves. Medical schemes currently hold R60bn in reserves, equivalent to 33% of their annual premium income and far in excess of the 25% threshold currently required by law, he said. This was an unnecessary accumulation of reserves at the expense of patients, the minister said.

The total amount paid to brokers in 2017 was R2.2bn, said the minister. "We want this money to be made available to pay for direct expenses of members rather than serving b...

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