The Financial Intermediaries Association (FIA) agrees with the Minister of Health that more needs to be done to increase access to quality care for all citizens.
The Medical Schemes Amendment Bill does not abolish brokers and in fact affirms that there is a need for advice and intermediary services in the medical scheme industry. The FIA welcomes efforts that seek to increase access to quality healthcare for all citizens.
The reference to ‘brokers’ often brings negative connotations that overshadow the crucial work being done by health benefits intermediaries in guiding, educating and protecting the interests of members of medical schemes. The Medical Schemes Amendment Bill continues to recognise that advisors play a role in the admission of new members to a medical scheme and more importantly, acknowledges that intermediaries provide on-going services in support of such members.
The principle of Social Solidarity has underpinned the Medical Schemes Act since inception. Community rating and open access are expressions of operationalising this principle. The current model on broker remuneration embraces this principle and does not restrict access to advice and intermediary services on the paying ability of the member. If fact, intermediaries are compelled to provide prescribed services and fees are regulated. This has allowed the low-income earners to access skilled advice at a fraction of the real cost. It would be unfortunate to make advice a preserve of the rich.
It is worrying that the Minister is of the impression that the Regulator can provide intermediary services and advice on financial products. The FIA is committed to engaging in the process and hopes to clarify this misconception.