Claims to the Discovery Health Medical Scheme reveal how South Africa’s lifestyle diseases are contributing to medical inflation. That’s besides poor regulatory control of the private sector, leading to excessive consultant tariffs; coding by health-care providers for treatments that are more expensive than clinically required; and a lack of low-cost medical benefits.

Discovery Health’s chief clinical officer, Noluthando Nematswerani, says the scheme’s data shows the average age of Discovery members increased from 32.3 years in 2008 to 36.8 in 2023. Also, twice as many young people suffer from chronic conditions than 15 years ago. Chronic claims increased from 15% to 28% between 2008 and 2023. Nine percent more people died with comorbidities over the past 12 years (rising from 39% in 2011 to 48% in 2023)...

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