As at 8 April 2020 , the number of South African lives that have tested positive to the COVID-19 is 1749 and we have lost 13 South Africans to the Novel Coronavirus. The fact that we are losing lives to the virus has been a difficult reality to face.It is a harsh reality we share with so many countries that have been dealing with this for far longer. As Bestmed we salute the men and woman that are at the forefront of the fight against this epidemic. They are working in an extremely challenging environment which requires diligence, consideration for their own safety and expedience given that time is of essence. They are putting themselves on the line to secure the health and safety of our citizens.
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.
We can take solace from the knowledge that over 45 people in our country have recovered from this virus. We commend the South African government for their swift response to this global pandemic. The fight against this virus has placed tremendous pressure on the country’s healthcare system (including hospitals, clinics, pathology centres, etc) and as such, we ask you to make every effort to avoid adding to this pressure by heeding President Cyril Ramaphosa plea for strict adherence to the COVID-19 National 21-day lockdown regulations.
Bestmed Notice: Telehealth consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic
Visiting a healthcare provider when you are ill is classified as an essential service. However, Bestmed supports the national lockdown regulations instituted by the South African government to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Members may therefore also utilise, and claim for, telephonic or video consultations with their healthcare practitioner. These consultations will be paid from your available benefits. Claims are paid from the same benefits as a normal consultation, which mainly consist of savings and day-to-day benefits.
COVID-19 related consultations will be paid from Scheme risk benefits when the diagnosis is confirmed positive, in which case it will be treated as a Prescribed Minimum Benefit (PMB).
Practitioners are requested to abide by the Health Practitioners Council of South Africa (HPCSA) guidelines and amended guidelines for telehealth consultations (whether it be telephonic or video format), which will form the basis of implementation of this benefit by Bestmed Medical Scheme.
Member Benefits During National Lockdown
Bestmed recognises the importance of assuring you as our valuable member and your dependants that we have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that our role as the funder of all your healthcare needs remains intact during the national lockdown. To this end and having taken strict measures to ensure the health and safety of our employees during this period, the Scheme will remain operational for the duration of the lockdown and continue to provide the critical service offering and role to ensure that all claims are paid, your queries are responded to and we continue to offer the excellent service offering you are accustomed to despite these trying times we all find ourselves in.
In addition, Bestmed members will still be able to access their benefits, submit chronic applications, request pre-authorisation, visit core network service providers and communicate with our Contact Centre to resolve queries. In adherence to the social distancing requirement, our walk-in centres will be closed during the lockdown, and we encourage you to make use of our contact-less support facilities as listed below:
Telephone support: 086 000 2378
SMS support: 44425
Nelspruit office: +27 (0)13 101 0280
Port Elizabeth office: +27 (0)41 363 8921
Durban office: +27 (0)31 279 5421
Cape Town office: +27 (0)21 202 8808 | 0860 333 342
Email support: email@example.com
Member portal: https://bit.ly/Bestmed_Member_Portal
Member App – Apple: https://bit.ly/Bestmed_Member_App_iOS
Member App – Android: https://bit.ly/Bestmed_Member_App_Android
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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A plea is made to all Bestmed members to stay guarded against COVID-19. If you are not an essential worker, stay home and abide by the restrictions out lined by the national lockdown. 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 email@example.com 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.
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:
- Polokwane Hospital, Limpopo
- Rob Ferreira Hospital, Mpumalanga
- Steve Biko and Thembisa, Gauteng
- Grace Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal
- Klerksdorp Hospital, North-West
- Kimberley Hospital, Northern Cape
- Pelonomi Hospital, Free State
- Livingstone Hospital, Eastern Cape
- Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape
For more information about the Novel Coronavirus visit www.sacoronavirus.co.za or text “Hi” the national COVID-19 WhatsApp line on 0600 123 456. You can also contact the NICD on 080 002 9999, or on 082 883 9920 if you have questions regarding possible cases and testing.