What’s the deal with the COVID 19 vaccine and my medical aid?

The vaccine has been a hot topic throughout the world and has been the source of much contention in South Africa. South Africans have questions about the state of the vaccine currently, how it will roll out and what the process is to register for it.

Where are we at with the vaccine in South Africa?

The government aims to vaccinate 41 million people. With the COVID 19 vaccines being rolled out currently, South Africans have learned that just because they are medical aid members does not mean they will be given priority in the queue all the while the line between the public and private healthcare systems is being blurred. This is leaving many South Africans wondering.

Ron Welan, Chief Commercial officer at Discovery Health, says medical schemes will be working alongside the government to ensure a smooth rollout of the vaccine. He states that:

“This is a national effort. It’s not the private sector on one side, and the public sector on the other side. We’re all as South Africans going to be in the same queue in terms of vaccinations. And there’s a simple reason for that because we need to drive towards population level immunity. None of us are safe until we’re all safe.”

He further stated:

“There’s no real differentiation between public and private, no real differentiation between medical aid and non-medical aid, in so far as the prioritisation and access of vaccinations. There are obviously differences in terms of the funding, but the actual prioritisation and access is the same.”

How will the vaccine roll out?

According to the Department of Health the COVID 19 vaccine Rollout Strategy will be implemented in three phases. Frontline healthcare workers will be given priority then other essential workers and high-risk groups will be vaccinated followed by the rest of the population.

Welan added:

“We think [the rollout plan] is a very logical decision. Our elderly population are most at risk of COVID 19. If you’re over the age of 70, you’ve got a 50-60% chance of being admitted to hospital, and we certainly see the higher mortality rates in those age groups. So, there is a very clear, clinical criteria and rationale for vaccinating the elderly first.”

Listen to the full interview here.

How do I register for the vaccine?

Less than a quarter of the population have registered for the vaccine as of April 16th. The Department of Health has therefore made it even easier to register. While the vaccinations are not open to the general public yet the registration process remains the same. Individuals can register for the vaccine via the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) self-registration portal which can be accessed here.

The South African Department of Health urges South Africans to be patient stating:

  • Vaccination is voluntary.
  • Everyone who has registered for the vaccine will be offered the vaccination.
  • When it is your turn the date, time and place of your vaccination will be received via SMS.

As quoted from the South African Department of Health you need the following:

  1. Access to the internet on any device (cellphone, laptop, tablet, desktop etc.).
  2. Your ID number or Passport (non-RSA) and general contact information (your cell phone number will be used as the primary mode of communication).
  3. Information about your employment (primary employer and location of work)
  4. Where relevant, your professional registration details, and medical aid are also requested.
  5. With all information at hand registration should take approximately 2-3 minutes.

Will my medical aid cover my COVID 19 vaccination?

The answer to this burning question is yes. South Africa’s Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) has declared the COVID 19 vaccine will be added to the Prescribed Minimum Benefits of South African medical schemes providing much needed relief to medical aid members. The CMS also provided a reminder that just because your medical aid covers the vaccine does not mean they will cover a COVID 19 test potentially leaving you with out of pocket expenses.

Some medical aid providers have pledged to provide a vaccination to every non-medical aid member for every member who is vaccinated. This has raised concerns among medical aid members as they worry about the costs involved in an initiative of this nature.

Will I, as the member, end up swallowing those costs?

There is no way to know but South Africans are advised to make sure they are getting the best deal possible and to compare what’s available, and then decide based on their circumstances.

What are my other options?

You may want to change your provider or ask your existing provider for a better deal.

To compare medical aid benefits and prices visit www.medicalaid.co.za and make sure you are on the best possible plan to meet your needs during this time.