WITBANK COALFIELDS MEDICAL AID SCHEME W.C.M.A.S.
PRESENTATION TO STANDING COMMITTEE ON PRIVATE MEMBERS’ LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
Medical Schemes Amendment Bill (Proposed by Mr B G Bell, MP Democratic Alliance Mpumalanga Constituency)
INTRODUCTION: Witbank Coalfields Medical Aid Scheme is a restricted membership Scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.
The Scheme was formed in 1935 and has served its members and employer groups, mainly in the coal mining industry, for more than 67 years.
The Scheme has a sound financial record and is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and cost effective Schemes with excellent member and employer group support over the years.
Currently members contributions are subsidized by 50% by their employers during their working lives.
From the outset, the Rules of the Scheme allowed for members and their families with sufficient service to continue membership of the Scheme after retirement or as a widow/widower at a monthly contribution rate equal
to their contribution before retirement without the employer’s 50% subsidy.
AMENDED MEDICAL SCHEMES ACT In 1998 the Medical Schemes Act was amended to regulate Medical Schemes in a more equitable manner and to make membership of Medical Schemes more accessible.
The New Act further calls for only one rate of contributions for all members of a Scheme which may only be varied according to income and number of dependants.
Although it was not the intention of the New Act to harm CAWMS (continuation and widow members) in any way, the restriction on a lesser rate will have a devastating effect on those pensioners and widow members who have up to now been paying contributions at 50% of the full normal members’ rate.
For WCMAS, CAWMS contributions would double up, forcing a large number of these members of long standing to terminate their membership of the Scheme and become dependant on the State for their medical needs.
WCMAS member’s and their employer groups, have always, contributed towards a reduced rate for members who have completed their period of normal membership and become a CAWM.
PROPOSAL: The Board of Trustees of the WCMAS, on behalf of its membership, request that Section 29(1)(n) of the Medical Schemes Act 1998 (Act No 131 of 1998) be amended to enable Medical Schemes and participating employer groups who have offered their CAWMS and Ex-employees the privilege of a reduced rate in retirement, to continue the practice.
PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO SECTION 29(1)(n) OF THE MEDICAL SCHEMES ACT 1998 29(1)(n) The terms and conditions applicable to the admission of a person as a member and his dependants, which in terms and conditions shall provide for the determination of contributions on the basis of income or the number of dependants or both the income and the number of dependants, and shall not provide for any other grounds, unless conditions under Rule 29 (1)(v) applies, including age, sex, past or present state of health, of the applicant or one or more of the applicant’s dependants, the frequency of rendering health services to an applicant or one or more of the applicant’s dependants other than for the provisions provided. 29(1)(v) The terms and conditions of a member who after a period, as required in the rules of the scheme, retires from the employment of a member employer due to reaching retirement age or ill-health may include the scheme offering the member a reduced rate for membership. On the death of such member his spouse may continue to enjoy the reduced rate as set out in the rules of the scheme.