An ASCII-art image of the text COVID19, the techni
  • As coronavirus infections and deaths started to ramp up in South Africa, medical aids spent less on member healthcare.
  • For the three months to the end of June, the average "relevant" medical spend per medical scheme beneficiary every months was R1,474, data released on Wednesday shows.
  • That's down 8.1% compared to the 2019 period.
  • Medical schemes and hospitals have reported people avoided visiting doctors and delayed elective procedures for fear of Covid-19.
  • Medical schemes are now, on average, more solvent than expected, the Council for Medical Schemes says.
  • For more stories go to

In the immediate run-up to South Africa's first peak in coronavirus infections and deaths attributed to Covid-19, spending by medical schemes declined, new data shows.

In the three months to the end of June, the "net relevant healthcare expenditure" per medical aid beneficiary per month was R1,474, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) said in a summary of the quarterly filings it received from funds.

That is down 8.1% from the 2019 figure for the same three months, and more than 15% lower than budget.

South Africa's deaths ascribed to the pandemic peaked in the third week of July, while new daily reported infections reached roughly half their eventual peak by the end of June.

Yet spending by medical schemes slowed, to an average of R26.3 billion per month, compared to R28.6 billion per month over the same three months in 2019.

Hospitals, medical schemes, and others in the healthcare industry reported that South Africans delayed elective procedures and avoided visiting their GPs, or any other medical provider, for fear of the coronavirus.

Schemes and their members were not spending in non-health categories either. Such non-healthcare spending averaged R159.20 per beneficiary per month, the CMS figures show, compared to R152.50 per month in the three months to the end of June 2019.

By the end of June medical schemes were, on average, far above the 25% solvency level they are required to maintain, the CMS said. Across the industry, including both open and closed schemes, the average solvency level was at 39.5%, up from an audited 35.6% at the end of December 2019.

There were 8,925,641 South Africans registered as beneficiaries of medical aid schemes on 30 June. In order to cover their needs, medical schemes held R87.1 billion in net assets between them.

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.