New Medical Aid not yet affiliated to fund regulator
Despite getting approval to operate as a medical aid fund, new kid on the block, Heritage Health Medical Aid Fund has not yet become a member of the Namibia Association of Medical Aid Funds (NAMAF).
Its bid to join the association lays squarely at the feet of the medical fund association, according to its Executive Director, Mike Baartman.
Baartman alleges that the Namibia Association of Medical Aid Funds has not moved fast enough in welcoming Heritage Health Medical Aid Fund into its stable.
“I have been in consultation with NAMAF since last week,” complained Baartman. “The whole NAMAF does not know how to conduct the process. They last registered a medical aid fund 20 years ago. They don’t have a clue.”
According to Baartman, the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) gave its clearance paving the way for the recently established medical aid fund to operate. Baartman is of the opinion that Heritage Medical Aid Fund does not need to be a member of the Namibia Association of Medical Aid Funds and said that becoming a member was voluntary.
“We comply with the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority Act and the soon to be introduced Financial Institutions and Markets Bill,” said Baartman.
Efforts to get a response from Namibia Association of Medical Aid Funds Chief Executive Officer, Gabriel Mbapeha were futile at the time of going to press.
All of Namibia’s medical aid funds are members of the association. The Namibia Medical Association of Namibia is a statutory body set up by an act of parliament.
“The fund determines tariffs for the entire industry.
In 2012, then Deputy Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein questioned the Namibia Association of Medical Aid Fund’s existence. He was quoted as saying, “Regulation of individual medical aid funds is entrusted to the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority and NAMAF also does not have a specific mandate that it carries out on behalf of the government.”
Added Schlettwein, “Keep in mind that the NAMAF board of directors consists of representatives of medical aid funds, with no representation by the Ministry of Health or any other independent stakeholder or medical practitioners.
“Due to this unilateral determination of the rates, members have to top up medical costs from their own pocket, especially for services provided by specialists.
“The introduction of the control board is not to set prices for medical and health services, but to ensure that these services are affordable and accessible to the public.”