More than a quarter of individuals who joined the public service in 2016 also joined the family of South Africa’s largest restricted medical scheme, the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS), which is now extending more care to more people than ever before.
“With close on 695 000 principal members and 1.83 million dependants by the end of last year, GEMS is looking to build a brighter future by making a positive difference in the health and productivity of the nation,” says Zandile Nqweni-Chamane, Acting GEMS’s Executive: Member Affairs.
The Scheme’s focus on the health and wellbeing of its members is reflected in its impressive ratio of non-healthcare expenditure. For every R100 GEMS receives in contributions, R94.90 is spent on members’ healthcare needs.
“Our membership profile shows that we are young and healthy, with an average age of 31 years. As our GEMS family is growing, we have had to develop new and innovative ways to keep in touch with our members, their needs and their wants, including through Facebook, our Client Liaison Officers (CLOs), call centre and self-help kiosks,” she adds.
During 2016, GEMS’s CLOs, who visit government departments, offices and units throughout the country, provided face-to-face assistance to over 221 449 members in 16 077 site visits. Over 80% of the issues raised during CLO interactions were successfully resolved on site.
“We have been using a number of different methods to reach out to members and one of our focus areas is educating the membership about the Scheme and how they can work with us to get the best out of GEMS. To this end, GEMS hosted 6 700 educational sessions. In order for us to better understand the needs of our members, we held 165 focus group sessions,” Nqweni-Chamane notes.
“This two-way communication flow has been extremely helpful, and allowed the Scheme to reach out proactively to help empower our members with the information they need to make healthy life choices and maximise their benefits.”
“During 2016 we issued a challenge to government departments to collectively register on the Fitness Programme for even better wellness outcomes, which in turn has benefits for boosting productivity. In the year ahead we are looking to introduce a number of exciting new value-added services to help attract more members to the healthy lifestyle that will keep them motivated and feeling great,” Nqweni-Chamane says.
Our GEMS Fitness Programme has reached 40 000 members since its introduction in October 2015. The GEMS Fitness Programme has considerable potential for helping members to reduce their risk, or the impact of, non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure among others.
GEMS has a number of other special programmes designed to enhance members’ wellness, including the GEMS Maternity Programme, which provide information and support to empower members. Our GEMS Maternity Programme reached 15 000 pregnant women within its membership, with 73% of them registering on the programme in their second trimester.
“With a solid network of service providers in place, a variety of communication channels open to members and the capability to provide service in all South Africa’s official languages, the GEMS family is growing in numbers and in strength and the Scheme is able to keep a close relationship with members. Each and every individual member is precious to GEMS, and we will keep looking for new ways to meet their needs and protect their good health into the future,” she concluded.