Patients in the central corridor of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. Picture: THE TIMES/DANIEL BORN
Patients in the central corridor of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital. Picture: THE TIMES/DANIEL BORN

Discovery says its health business has seen cancer claims nearly double since 2010.

The number of Discovery Health Medical Scheme members receiving treatment for cancer has increased by 99% since 2010, even though the scheme’s membership numbers have only increased by 24% over that time, the group said on Wednesday.

“This indicates a combination of increasing incidence of cancer as well as anti-selection,” Discovery said. Anti-selection refers to people who join a scheme with the intention of making a claim.

In the 12 months to September 2018, 34,104 members were being treated for cancer, a 7% increase from the prior year and double the number seen in 2010.

While breast cancer remains the most common cancer among Discovery’s members, the number of members claiming for prostate cancer rose at a faster pace in the 12 months to September, with claims increasing 9.6% year-on-year.

Discovery said it paid out R3.4bn for oncology treatment during the year.

Meanwhile, the group said birth rates among its members had “steadily declined in recent years in line with the general trend in SA”. Births per 1,000 female members aged between 18 and 55 fell to 46.9 in the 12-month period, from 48.5 previously, and 53 in 2008.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za