/ 14 March 2024

Working towards improving South Africa’s healthcare

Lee Callakoppen Principal Officer Bonitas Medical Fund
Lee Callakoppen, Bonitas’ principal officer.

Bonitas goes above and beyond to overcome local socio-demographic and economic obstacles

Regardless of what plans are in the pipeline for this country’s healthcare infrastructure, there are common goals shared between all those involved in healthcare which are to improve citizen care, work towards eliminating disparities and, through collaboration, bring the cost of healthcare down to the benefit of all citizens.

One company that continuously works for the benefit of its wide and diverse membership base is the Bonitas Medical Scheme.

“We strive to keep abreast of our members’ healthcare needs through extensive research and data analytics — which includes all stakeholders, but specifically members, employers and healthcare providers,” says Lee Callakoppen, Bonitas’ Principal Officer.

“We take great care to balance our benefit enhancements to provide value to our members, while still ensuring that contributions remain affordable. This was demonstrated by the scheme announcing the lowest increases for large open medical aid schemes for 2024. 

“Our members are from all walks of life. They are go-getting entrepreneurs, SMMEs, chief executive officers, newlyweds, young couples with children, retirees, and minimum wage earners — all South Africans seeking peace of mind when it comes to healthcare. This is why we have a wide range of 15 plans, grouped into five categories: savings, traditional, hospital, Edge (virtual) and income-based.”

In its efforts to keep things simple and easy to understand, with plans structured to meet a diverse range of quality healthcare options that are affordable, Bonitas introduced Efficiency Discounted Options (EDOs); plans that use network healthcare providers, thus members pay around 15% less for the same benefits. According to Callakoppen, EDOs currently cover over 70 000 lives. He also says Bonitas’ Edge plans are aimed at new entrants to the workplace, economically active singles or couples, living in the larger metros, aged between 18 and 35. 

Bonitas’ managed care programmes include cover for chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, back and neck problems and mental health.

Proactive interventions

“We also have a responsibility to be proactive in terms of guiding members towards living a healthier lifestyle. In order to do this, we need to be cognisant of all socioeconomic factors impacting South Africans, such as poverty, unemployment, mental health and gender-based violence, all of which impact on healthcare.”

Technology drives Bonitas’ plans, and the ease of access through virtual integration and digital intervention and technology has empowered it to deliver healthcare more effectively and efficiently. It was the first medical scheme to offer a medical aid product that offered virtual consultations, in response to the risks posed by Covid-19, to ensure its members could still seek healthcare advice.

“Technology associated with mobile devices and wearables is also assisting schemes in gathering vital healthcare data, through digital screenings, so that members can be treated quickly and appropriately,” continues Callakoppen. “We see the future of healthcare revolving around preventative care and sustaining wel-being, as opposed to responding to illness.”

Bonitas is also behind a number of humanitarian projects, including through its partnership with Gift of the Givers to identify health-related projects, and this includes the gift of life — water.

“Water interventions in the form of boreholes are in progress for six healthcare facilities located in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KZN and Free State and these include a psychiatric hospital, general hospitals, clinics and an orphanage,” concludes Callakoppen.

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