Pretoria - Scores of security guards have been left counting their losses, after they are unable to receive their health benefits following health companies – moonlighting as health insurance – deducted more than R25 million from thousands of workers since March 2021.
Union leaders say at least 30 000 workers are affected; many have been turned away from hospitals and clinics while trying to access health care, because their medical aid cards did not qualify over non-payment.
The workers pay R150 monthly from their salaries under the understanding that the money will go towards their medical benefits.
The National Bargaining Council for Private Security Services approved Health Insurance, administered by Affinity Health in accordance with the main collective agreement, became effective on March 1 last year. The health insurance cover is compulsory for all security officers and the cost is R250 a month.
The benefits are supposed to include chronic disease management and medication, doctors’ consultations, accidental hospital and casualty benefit, a hospital care plan, and an HIV and TB management programme.
But thousands of security guards have discovered to their shock that they are not covered. Companies moonlighting as health insurance companies are allegedly colluding with registered companies to dupe the workers.
A letter written by union attorneys MT Raselo Incorporated, addressed to the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), asks companies, including Imvula Group – alleged to be complicit – to stop moonlighting as the appointed health beneficiary service provider, because it is Affinity Health (Pty) Limited.
The attorneys represent the Kungwini Amalgamated Workers Union, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union, and Abanqobi Workers Union.
The letter reads in part: “We demand that you forthwith attend to this complaint, (on failure of which) we hold instructions to approach the court on an urgent basis for an appropriate order … ”
The letter said in terms of the collective agreement, Affinity was appointed as the designated health service provider to provide hospital cover and group health insurance. The letter added that Imvula Group’s brochure purports that it is the designated health service provider, creating a mala fide misrepresentation in an illicit attempt to poach business from Affinity Health.”
Pretoria News sent questions to CMS by email early in December, but had not received any response by deadline.
One of the security workers, who preferred to stay anonymous for fear of reprisals, said he was forced to queue for hours at a government clinic after he was turned away at a private medical facility because his medical aid did not work.
“I was seriously sick. Even now I’m not sure where I stand, but money is deducted from my salary every month.”
Efforts to reach the Imvula group proved fruitless.