JOHANNESBURG – The consolidation in the medical aid industry heated up yesterday after the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) approved the merger of CompCare Wellness Medical Scheme and Selfmed.

The amalgamated scheme will be known as CompCare Wellness Medical Scheme.

Josua Joubert, the chief executive and principal officer of CompCare, said the amalgamation was meant to strengthen the two schemes and to ensure ongoing value for members.

“Together, the two schemes will become one of South Africa's top 10 medical schemes, offering a highly competitive product range and a customer focused service offering,” Joubert said.

“The South African private healthcare industry has undergone considerable change in recent years. One such noteworthy trend is the consolidation of the medical schemes industry. This development, which is supported and endorsed by the CMS, is aligned to the white paper on National Health Insurance (NHI).”

More smaller medical aid schemes were expected to merge in light of the introduction of the NHI to ensure their survival.

Section 322 of the 2017 NHI White Paper states: “Amendments to the Medical Schemes Act will be initiated as part of the broad-phased implementation. Medical schemes will evolve and consolidate during this phase to provide complementary cover.” The NHI Bill was discussed in the South African Parliament two weeks ago.

The Portfolio Committee on Health will tomorrow receive a presentation on the NHI Bill from Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize. Thereafter, parliamentary processes will begin, which will include a public consultation process.

Under the NHI, the government plans to provide a package of comprehensive health services for free at private and public health facilities.

Christo Becker, the principal officer of Selfmed Medical Scheme, said the two schemes complement each other and can together provide a broader, member-centric offering to members.

"The amalgamation of the two schemes will result in a combined scheme with reserves significantly above the regulated 25percent.”

The CMS this week placed Thebemed under provisional liquidation after the scheme experienced financial difficulties and its failure to maintain the minimum statutory solvency ratio of 25percent as set out in regulation 29(2) of Medical Schemes Act.