Still room for growth for Botswana medical aid schemes – experts

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Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), which currently supervises and regulates medical aid funds in Botswana, is in the process of determining how best to regulate and supervise the industry.

This was revealed by Jac Schreuder, a Consulting Actuary at NMG Consultants and Actuaries. Speaking at the Symphony Health media workshop held last week, Schreuder said the Botswana medical aid schemes market is not strictly regulated as compared to the South African market.

He said there are currently no subordinate regulations and medical aids are required to provide periodic reports and annual financial statements. Currently, only 17 per cent of Botswana’s population is on medical aid funds. Schreuder told Gazette Business in an interview after the workshop that there is still potential for growth for medical aid schemes in Botswana.
In this 17 per cent, over 341, 000 beneficiaries are covered by medical aid funds, about 142, 000 are members and with annual contributions of over P800 million as well as paid up annual benefits of over P661 million.

“The regulations should be set up on a way that clients understand them. Regulations are crucial to ensure that clients get value for their money and it is often important to benchmark in countries that are on similar circumstances as you. In this case, South Africa is the best match for benchmarking by Botswana. Botswana has a stable economy and the market has huge potential for growth,” he shared.

Symphony Health Chief Executive Officer, Rose Tatedi indicated that NBFIRA is entrusted with the regulation. “It has taken a bit of time to come up with regulations to guide the industry. It has not concluded the process yet. We expect them after completion of the draft, to engage us stakeholders to have a clear understanding and what would be expected of us to do,” she said.
Currently medical aid schemes in Botswana are registered under different laws, some under the Societies Act whilst some under Attorney Generals Chambers.   It is rumoured that NBFIRA has previously engaged KPMG consultants to do a study on the regulations and the consultants are said to have submitted the report to the regulator.

Meanwhile, NBFIRA’s response to Gazette Business questions, signed by Deputy CEO-Shared Services Michael Tlhagwane, did not come out to confirm the study by KPMG.
“Please note that currently, medical aid schemes are regulated and supervised according to Section 49 of the NBFIRA Act of 2006. However, be informed that NBFIRA is in the process of engaging relevant stakeholders for drafting of specific regulations for medical aid schemes,” Tlhagwane said.

Pressed for comment in a telephone interview, NBFIRA’s spokesperson, Tapologo Kwapa only said that they were in a consultation process and it was too early to comment.