Construction industry medical scheme keeps growing despite a slow economy

At the 2021 benefit launch of the Building and Construction Industry Medical Aid Fund (BCIMA), Phumelele Makatini, the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of the scheme had heartening words and good news to share with members.

Phumelele Makatini, the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of the scheme
Phumelele Makatini, the Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of the scheme

“In what has been one of the more difficult years in our industry, BCIMA has continued to grow its membership by more than 5%, whereas most medical schemes have lost members because of COVID-19,” she said.

“We’ve focused our efforts on achieving this and are pleased to confirm that we were also able to add further value for our members by increasing the scheme’s benefits by an average of approximately 5% across the board. We have further been able to keep contribution rate increases to a low 4,5% for 2021.”

“Over the past five years, contribution increases have remained consistently low, and we work hard to keep it this way. In fact, over the last several years, BCIMA has had some of the lowest annual increases on a consistent basis, and 2021 will be no exception,” asserts Makatini.

She further noted that BCIMA maintained a solvency ratio of 117%, which is significantly above the industry average and four times greater than the solvency ratio required by the Council for Medical Schemes, thereby confirming the financial stability of the Fund.

“The value that BCIMA provides is widely acknowledged in the industry with the Fund enjoying considerable support from various associations, such as the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry, the Master Builders Association of South Africa, the Master Builders Association North and the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors. It is also the preferred medical scheme for a number of unions, including the Building, Construction and Allied Workers Union, the National Union of Mine Workers, and the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers.

“These organisations represent a large number of contractors and employers in the construction sector. They also provide a range of services to members of the industry such as on-going training, legal services, labour relations, building codes and standards, and regulatory compliance matters that favourably impact the sector and its people.

“Having the support of industry bodies and unions as well as a number of companies and employer groups is what sets BCIMA apart as the de facto medical scheme of choice for the building, construction and engineering industries,” she notes.

BCIMA is an attractive proposition as a medical scheme in the building construction and civil engineering industries for a number of reasons:

  • It is exempt from prescribed minimum benefits. Originally registered as a bargaining council, BCIMA voluntarily converted to a medical scheme and over the years has enhanced its benefits coverage in every successive year.
  • Not having to cover PMBs at cost means that the scheme pays less for the benefits offered and is not subjected to the unduly high fees charged by some providers.
  • The average BCIMA member is 28 years old, while the pensioner ratio is currently only 1.99%, compared with an average pensioner ratio of 9.55% for open schemes and 6.46% for restricted schemes.
  • The scheme offers a single contribution rate for a whole family, whether it is just the principal member that joins or the principal member and his/her family. This means that members will never need to leave a sick child off their medical cover.
  • Principal members can register all their children, as well as their spouse or life partner on the fund, without paying more.

According to Ms Makatini, contributions are based on wage levels which mean members never pay more than they can afford. “Once you become a BCIMA member, you can remain a member for life. We understand that contractors can end up with no work when companies are between projects. To ensure continuous medical cover, BCIMA provides one membership number for life. Our rules allow members who have joined the fund to temporarily pause their membership when a project is completed. Members can thereafter re-join the fund again at a later stage, using the same membership number, without any underwriting.

“BCIMA understands that working in the building, construction and engineering industry means constant changes in work location. The scheme therefore does not limit members to visit specific healthcare providers. Members are offered complete freedom of choice to see their own GP or specialist. In addition, hospital benefits are available at any private hospital of the member’s choice,” she explains.

BCIMA is also one of the only medical schemes to provide cover for consultations with traditional healers. Furthermore, the scheme has a generous benefit for homeopathic remedies and over-the-counter medicines.

Benefit highlights

  • Unlike other schemes aimed at the lower-income market, BCIMA has generous day-to-day benefits including R4 400 per principal member and R9 900 per family for medical consultations with general practitioners and specialists.
  • The medication benefit is extremely competitive. Acute medication is increased to R6 700 for a principal member and up to R11 500 for a family.
  • The chronic medicine benefit is increased to R 12 000 per family.
  • The scheme introduced an unlimited HIV benefit for members diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
  • The hospital limit will increase by 4.27% to R440 000, which will be supported by an in-hospital ex-gratia benefit in the event of clinical need.
  • BCIMA offers members peace of mind by providing emergency transport cover via Netcare 911 for emergency, accident and trauma incidents.

“BCIMA is passionate about bringing flexible access to quality healthcare for the hardworking employees of the building, construction and civil engineering industries – all at a cost they can afford. We stand for value-for-money medical cover and our long and proud service history to the industry has given us understanding and insight into the sector, its people and their needs. This makes BCIMA the ideal partner to the sector and its employees.

“Healthcare is a national asset that is pivotal to the economic sustainability of SA. As one of the oldest medical schemes in South Africa, BCIMA is proud of the role it has played in broadening access to healthcare for South Africans and we hope that our experience imparts helpful learnings to the broader healthcare sector ahead of the implementation of NHI,” she concludes.



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