Today's Labour News

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GEMSBL Premium reports that the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) has defended its decision to award Afrocentric subsidiary Activo Health a multimillion-rand contract to provide its members with multivitamins, saying it was responding to their demands for immune boosters to fend off Covid-19.

The justification followed an announcement on Tuesday by the industry regulator, the Council for Medical Schemes, that it had started a Section 43 enquiry into the matter. At issue is both the nature of the contract and the process by which GEMS awarded it. It is highly unusual for a medical scheme to provide a benefit to members that hasn’t been recommended by a healthcare professional, and it outsourced the selection of a vitamin provider to its managed-care provider, Medscheme, which is also a subsidiary of JSE-listed Afrocentric. GEMS principal officer Stan Moloabi said the board had agreed to set aside R400m from its ex-gratia fund to provide adult beneficiaries with a five-month supply of multivitamins during the coronavirus pandemic, in response to demand from members. There had been “immense pressure” from unions represented at the public service bargaining chamber, he stated. So far, 187,000 of GEMS’ approximately 1-million adult beneficiaries had opted in for the vitamin benefit, said Moloabi. The Progressive Healthcare Forum (PHF), an association of health activists, said GEMS shouldn’t be providing vitamins directly to its members, as the benefits provided by a medical scheme required mediation by a healthcare professional, such as a pharmacist or doctor. “It’s unheard of. No other scheme does this,” said PHF chairperson Aslam Dasoo.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

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