GEMS membership fees to go up by 10.8%

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pretoria - Members of Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) will be paying on average 10.8 percent more on their medical scheme next year.

"Despite a recessionary economic climate and a need for fiscal prudency, the 2010 contribution rate increase is almost 0.50 percent lower than that of the previous year," said GEMS Principal Officer, Dr Eugene Watson on Tuesday.

Dr Watson said in the past, the scheme had fulfilled its mandate of taking every effort to deliver the finest healthcare benefits possible to members.

The scheme offers five benefit plans namely Onyx, Ruby, Emerald, Beryl and Sapphire that are between 10 and 25 percent less expensive when compared to other medical schemes.

Watson said that though members will pay more for their healthcare cover, new member benefits will be introduced at the same time.

"The first 5.9 percent of the GEMS contribution increase comes as a result of the statutory obligation for the scheme to increase its reserves to 25 percent in 2011. The real operational increase for GEMS is therefore closer to 4.9 percent," he explained.

Members on the Sapphire and Beryl options can expect to pay between R21 and R38 more for a family of three once their subsidies have been taken into consideration. Another change members can expect is the introduction of a new comprehensive network of healthcare providers.

On other options members can expect to pay between R142 to R459 for a family of three.

"However, we have increased the income bands applicable to all benefit options by 10 percent and many members may find that they actually move "down" in terms of income bands making membership of GEMS more affordable," he said.

Minister of Public Service and Administration, Richard Baloyi, said that GEMS had made significant progress towards meeting and exceeding its mandate and its annual membership growth rate continued to exceed expectations.

"The 2010 benefit offering confirms the scheme's responsiveness to members as many of the new benefits on offer in 2010 emanate from member requests received during the past year," he said.

The minister said GEMS had already grown its membership base by an impressive 100 000 members in 2009. "The scheme now has more than 400 000 principal members and provides healthcare cover to well over a million individuals which means that it now provides healthcare over to 2 percent of all South Africans," said Baloyi.