Coronavirus (COVID-19): Bestmed benefits

The number of cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) confirmed in South Africa is now 24. Since the first case was confirmed in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 125 048 patients globally as of 13 March 2020. The Scheme is on high alert and would like members to take note of the information below.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the latest estimated mortality rate is only 3.4% worldwide. While high-risk patients such as the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions are more likely to develop serious illness, about 80% of people recover from the virus without needing special treatment.

What to remember as a Bestmed member

Bestmed would also like to remind members that should they be positively diagnosed with COVID-19, they will be fully covered for diagnostic testing, consultations and treatment regardless of their Scheme option.

Bestmed also covers hospitalisation at 100% Scheme rates if members are tested positive for COVID-19. It is to be noted that pre-authorisation is required for hospitalisation. Members must kindly note that, if they are on a network option, they need to use their designated services providers to be covered. The list of the dedicated network of services providers can be accessed via the online member portal, as well as via the Bestmed app. Members can also contact their regional contact centre for assistance regarding service providers, based on their Scheme option.

A plea is made to all Bestmed members to stay guarded against COVID-19. Follow good hygiene habits, such as washing your hands, avoiding handshakes and disposing of tissues in a closed bin. Many recommend washing your hands for 20 seconds. Refer to the World Health Organization for more helpful preventative tips.

In order to support members in taking precautionary measures, Bestmed will refund any cash purchases for hand sanitizers from members’ available over-the-counter (OTC) benefits if purchased from a network pharmacies. The proof of purchase must be sent to claims@bestmed.co.za to facilitate a refund. Bestmed emphasises the importance of getting flu vaccines. Flu vaccines are part of your preventative care benefit and this vaccine is available for members on every medical aid option. Contracting flu has a negative effect on the immune system. Find out more about your flu vaccine benefit here.

What should I do if I suspect that I have contracted COVID-19?

  • If you suspect that you might have contracted the virus, seek medical attention.
  • If you have travelled to areas with confirmed cases of the virus or have come into close contact with someone who has travelled, and thereafter experience flu-like symptoms and a fever, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Your healthcare practitioner will send your sample to a State Laboratory for testing.

Will my Bestmed medical aid option cover my expenses if I contract the virus?

Regardless of your Bestmed benefit option, you will be covered for COVID-19 in the unfortunate event that you, or one of your dependants, tests positive. The Scheme will provide cover for confirmed cases in order to pay for diagnostics as well as treatment in and out of hospital. In the case of a positive diagnosis, the member, their representative or their healthcare provider must notify Bestmed of the member’s diagnosis as soon as possible via telephone on 086 000 2378 or email at service@bestmed.co.za.

It is important to note that members’ routine consultations with medical practitioners will be covered per normal scheme benefits as per the member’s option.

Bestmed’s strong financial position which includes healthy financial reserves stands us in good stead to support members during this potential crisis. This attests to the prudency of maintaining a healthy solvency ratio which is above the minimum statutory requirement of 25%.

Will I be covered if I have a hospital plan and not comprehensive cover?

As stated above, if you contract the COVID-19 virus, you will be covered, including the costs related to the diagnosis, treatment and care of your condition.

Which individuals can be classified as high risk?

  • High-risk individuals include members with pre-existing conditions (for example cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, cancer, HIV and other immune-suppressive conditions). These individuals are urged to keep to their routine medication and screenings.
  • Elderly members should also be on higher alert.

How can I prevent contracting the virus?

Global authorities, including World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) recommend good hand hygiene (handwashing with soap and water), cough etiquette, avoiding contact with animals when in high-risk countries, and adhering to the following:

  • Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections;
  • Avoiding visiting markets where live animals are sold;
  • Avoid non-essential travel, especially to high-risk countries.

Bestmed would like to assure our members that we will continue to monitor the situation and will constantly review and align our internal processes and procedures to ensure that members are supported and receive the care they need.

Frequently asked questions

What caused COVID-19 and how is it spread?
It is believed that the virus that causes COVID-19 was originally spread from an animal source, but it is now spreading between people.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms are similar to regular flu symptoms, including a dry cough, fever, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
If you think you should be tested for COVID-19, call the hospital or doctor before you go there so that arrangements can be made to minimise exposure to the facility.

What test needs to be done to confirm that I have COVID-19?
A swab test is done to run a viral analysis for COVID-19.

What should I do if my local medical lab cannot test for COVID-19?
State laboratories are the referral point and, therefore, the starting point. There are other laboratories that also collect epidemiological information on all test subjects to share with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).

Where can I go for treatment?
The following medical facilities have been earmarked for treatment:

  1. Polokwane Hospital, Limpopo
  2. Rob Ferreira Hospital, Mpumalanga
  3. Steve Biko and Thembisa, Gauteng
  4. Grace Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal
  5. Klerksdorp Hospital, North-West
  6. Kimberley Hospital, Northern Cape
  7. Pelonomi Hospital, Free State
  8. Livingstone Hospital, Eastern Cape
  9. Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape

If you have any more questions regarding COVID-19, you can contact the NICD on 080 002 9999, or on 082 883 9920 if you have questions regarding possible cases and testing.

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