Sweeping changes to medical schemes on the road to National Health Insurance came a step closer this week when the medical scheme regulator announced the potential closure of small schemes, the rationalisation of scheme options and an accelerated alignment of scheme benefits with the government's health policy. At the Board of Healthcare Funders conference in Cape Town this week, a senior Department of Health official also announced that the Council for Medical Schemes would start consulting on how to make scheme membership mandatory for all who can afford it. The conference heard that the council was considering dissolving 29 medical schemes that have fewer than 6,000 members to better cross-subsidise risk.

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