GEMS makes strides in fulfilling mandate

Monday, October 26, 2009

Durban - Since its inception in January 2006, the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) has clearly demonstrated that it most certainly means business by fulfilling its mandate.

Minister for Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi said in the past year alone the scheme has grown its membership base by an impressive one third, more that 100 000 members.

"GEMS now has more than 400 000 principal members and provides healthcare cover to well over a million beneficiaries, which means that it provides healthcare cover to 2 percent of all South Africans."

Minister Baloyi said over 50 percent of GEMS members previously did not access the employer subsidy for medical schemes.

"This means that in excess of 500 000 of these individuals did not previously enjoy medical scheme cover and that they now do. What makes these facts and figures so remarkable is that the impressive growth to date was achieved in a recessionary economic climate," Baloyi said.

According to Department of Public Service and Administration, more that 145 000 employees on salary level one to five have enrolled on GEMS and not only on an option where they enjoy fully subsidized cover.

The scheme's efficient pricing and operating costs have created a contribution level that even the lowest earners can enjoy.

Baloyi said GEMS has managed a myriad of healthcare challenges effectively and ensured a healthy workforce that can participate productively in the economy.

"In so doing the many successes and considerable growth of GEMS is having a powerful, knock on effect in the South African Public Service and on the overall economy of our country.

"GEMS's success as a medical scheme serve as positive proof that government as an employer can indeed make an indelible mark," Baloyi said.

The minister was addressing the 2009 GEMS Symposium themed "Adding value to the Public Service" on Monday in Durban.