New Product Covers Financial Risk of HIV/AIDS

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Two Namibian medical aid administrators have introduced a product that would ensure the uninsured Namibian employer groups have the opportunity to enjoy affordable healthcare benefits. Last year December, Deputy Minister of Finance Tjekero Tweya lamented over many employers not providing medical aid for their employees due to exorbitant fees. The deputy minister said access to health care in the private sector was a concern to Government because it has become more out of reach for the ordinary citizen. Being a priority area of government, health is allocated around 7.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, an amount, Tweya said, which is one of the highest in Africa, south of the Sahara. Methealth Namibia Administrators together with Prosperity Health in response to complaints recently introduced a medical aid cover ‘Health is Vital’, aimed at making uninsured employer groups and insured employer groups share the financial risk of HIV/AIDS and other specialised chronic illnesses. Prosperity Group has provided a regulatory required guarantee of N$750 000 to register the Health is Vital Fund. Methealth Namibia Administrators Manager of Corporate Affairs Beverly Jandrell says this is in response to what is stipulated in Namibia’s Vision 2030 blueprint. However, Tweya says though the country’s roadmap to an industrialised nation aims at having health care for all by that time, the escalation of tariffs, premiums and fees on a yearly basis do not keep pace with the income of the people. Based on this, and in order to meet Namibia’s HIV/AIDS epidemic and other health challenges, there is a strong need to continue expanding efforts to invest heavily in the treatment of those infected with the disease. Though Jandrell did not explain in detail about the new product, the two targets (both insured and uninsured workers) would make monthly contributions to a risk pool, which has an essential set of HIV/AIDS treatment benefits, Vitality, attached to it. The product would further offer two other options for day care. According to Jandrell, Vitality DayCare option provides an overall annual benefit, which includes visits to a general practitioner, medicine and injections, primary health care services, optical and ambulance services, while Vitality NetCare option provides unlimited day care benefits such as hos-pitalisation benefits in the private wings of state hospitals. A non-profit-making Dutch foundation PharmAccess that specialises in HIV/AIDS treatment access in identified African countries entered into an agreement with Health is Vital. The aim is to subsidise the two product options. “PharmAccess aims to achieve this by supporting the strengthening of local (medical) capacity, stimulating the opening up of local markets and enhancing access to affordable care and HIV/AIDS treatment”, Jandrell stated. The participation of health industry players such as Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authorities (NAMFISA) in the board of trustees of Health is Vital, is imperative.