Brett Tromp stresses the importance of solidarity in the healthcare sector

CFO Brett says the call to help fund the Covid-19 vaccine is warmly welcomed by Discovery Health.

Discovery Health has announced that it has set funding aside for its members to receive the Covid-19 vaccine as it throws its weight behind a national effort to source a cost-effective supplier.

Following a considered approach by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 vaccines, the CMS has declared funding for the Covid-19 vaccine to be a prescribed medium benefit. This was formally published in an amendment to the Medical Schemes Act PMB legislation, signed by the Minister of Health, on 4 January, which says that medical schemes are effectively obliged by law to fund the Covid-19 vaccine.

“During 2020, Discovery Health Medical Scheme ring-fenced funding for all members of the scheme to receive the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available in South Africa,” says Discovery Health CFO Brett Tromp.

He added that, having participated in a consultative process with the Council of Medical Schemes (CMS), through the industry associations, Discovery Health fully supports the government’s approach to fund the Covid-19 vaccine and embraces the opportunity to co-fund the vaccine for all South Africans.

Brett explains that the CMS has engaged the medical schemes through the industry associations to ensure a consultative and supportive approach to funding this benefit requirement. “This was warmly welcomed and supported by the medical scheme representative associations.”

He adds that medical schemes have agreed to support a pricing arrangement for the vaccines, which ensures that a surplus is generated by the schemes’ purchases of the vaccine, that can be used to cross-subsidise higher-risk non-medical scheme members, on a one-for-one basis. This means that, for each vaccine procured for a medical scheme member, sufficient surplus is generated through procurement arrangements for the vaccine to subsidise the vaccination of one non-medical scheme member.

“This approach to medicine pricing is not unusual considering that many medicines are sold at a higher single exit price to the private healthcare sector than to the public health sector,” Brett says. Additionally, he explains that the medical schemes believe there are critically important imperatives in this process, including vaccinating the at-risk population groups urgently, making significant progress towards herd immunity through broad vaccination, and ensuring readily available funding to facilitate rapid vaccine procurement.

“This is undoubtedly a moment in time where solidarity in the healthcare sector is of paramount importance to the country and is warmly welcomed and supported by both the public and private sectors,” he says.

He adds that Discovery Health and Discovery Health Medical Scheme are delighted to be collaborating with the National Department of Health and working in solidarity to ensure adequate funding of vaccines for all South Africans. “This has critical relevance and implications to the health of our population, and to our economy. We are pleased to support the national Covid-19 vaccination strategy and will continue to actively engage with the government to ensure vaccination for all South Africans.”