Updated: Feb 17, 2022
‘Growth the order of the game’ for scheme serving building, construction and open cast mining industries
For close on six decades the Building and Construction Industry Medical Aid Fund (BCIMA) has successfully fulfilled the healthcare funding needs of the building, construction, civil engineering and open cast mining industries with a single, popular medical scheme option. This has however changed with the introduction of a second medical scheme option, BCIMA Plus, at the beginning of 2022.
Commenting on the development, Phumelele Makatini, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of BCIMA said that the past 22 months has without doubt been among the most difficult periods worldwide. “The building, construction, and mining industries served by BCIMA were among the hardest hit by the economic hardships and job losses that followed in the wake of COVID-19. Like so many other South Africans, many of our members faced retrenchment, as economic hardships pushed their employers to the brink with several having to close or downsize their businesses.
“Notwithstanding these difficult circumstances, as per the 2020 CMS Industry Report, BCIMA has continued to grow its membership by more than five percent, thereby becoming one of only three medical schemes in the industry to reflect growth. I believe this serves as a tremendous endorsement of the value the fund provides to its members in a difficult economic climate. But this does not mean that we can rest on our laurels,” adds Makatini.
“As a scheme that has always remained close to its members and corporate clients, we are always looking for ways to improve client satisfaction. As part of this process, we have ascertained that an additional product option would serve our clients, notably those who prefer a single medical scheme for employees of all income groups, particularly well.”
According to Makatini, BCIMA Plus was introduced in October 2021 and was approved by the Council for Medical Schemes late last year and during this relatively short period of time has attracted considerable interest.
“It is fully compliant with all regulatory requirements and provides full cover for prescribed minimum benefits [PMBs]. As a new generation option, it will further provide members with a medical savings account of 25% of monthly contributions and an unlimited in-hospital benefit while the 27 Chronic Disease List conditions are covered from risk under this benefit option,” she explains.
Some product highlights of BCIMA Plus are:
Freedom of choice in selecting healthcare service providers.
Access to any private hospital, with unlimited hospital cover.
The inclusion of a 25% savings portion which is completely tax-deductible.
Unlimited day-to-day benefits, subject to available savings (PMSA).
Balance of savings can be carried over monthly and annually.
“We have added considerable value for members on the BCIMA Basic Option with hospital as well as annual sub limits being increased by 4.2% across the board. Over the past five years, contribution increases have remained consistently low, and we work hard to keep it this way. For example, in the last several years, BCIMA has had some of the lowest annual increases on a consistent basis and in the 2022 benefit year we were able to keep contribution rate increases to a low 5,1%,” notes Makatini.
Some product highlights of BCIMA’s basic option are:
A single contribution rate for the whole family, whether it is just the principal member that joins or the principal member or their family. Principal members can register all their children, as well as their spouse or life partner on the fund, without paying more.
Members have freedom of choice in selecting healthcare service providers.
Members have access to any private hospital.
Cover is provided for traditional healers.
BCIMA is exempt from prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs) – not having to cover PMBs at cost means that the scheme pays less for the benefits offered and is not subjected to the high fees charged by some providers.
Special product features which are available on both BCIMA options include alcohol and drug abuse cover, 21 days per beneficiary per annum and preventative care benefits for dentistry for children under six years as well as a preventative care mental health benefit. Additionally, all COVID admissions and treatment have unlimited benefits. Members also have access to emergency and non-emergency telephonic medical advice and information via the health-on-line benefit.
Overall Advantage of BCIMA membership
All BCIMA contributions are based on hourly wage levels which mean members can pay their contributions weekly or monthly and will 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 civil 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,” notes Makatini.
BCIMA - solid, safe and secure
BCIMA is in a financially strong position to continue providing its members with all important medical scheme cover, and most critically, honour all their claims well into the future. During the past financial year, the scheme achieved a solvency ratio of over 116%.
The fund continues to demonstrate that a highly innovative and well-managed medical scheme can find solutions to ensure the provision of benefits that are not only affordable, but also meaningful to those who rely on them. This not only makes BCIMA the ideal partner to the sector and its employees, but we believe the scheme also sets an example to the healthcare industry regarding how medical cover can be successfully provided to all South Africans. We therefore maintain the view that the scheme is a notable forerunner to the NHI.
“We are passionate about bringing flexible access to 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 healthcare partner to the industry,” says Makatini.
“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.