Nammed Medical Aid Fund is taking the first bold steps towards implementing Project Nammed 2025 to simplify medical aid options in Namibia, as Principal Officer, Gert Grobler, tells us.
Project 2025 endeavours to restructure Nammed Medical Aid Fund (Nammed), to make it simple for anybody to choose the right option suited to their specific needs.”
Gert Grobler, Principal Officer at Nammed, is part of a dedicated, professional team responsible for providing healthcare and support to all residents in Namibia.
Following Namibia’s independence from neighbouring South Africa in 1990, Nammed was established by the Namibian Agricultural Union with the aim of ensuring medical cover for farmers in the Southwest African country, who previously belonged to a South Africa-based medical aid fund.
Since 1995, medical aid funds in Namibia such as Nammed have been operated under the regulatory authority of the Namibian Registrar of Medical Aid Funds.
“With the establishment of the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA) in 2002, the regulatory framework changed, and the Registrar of Medical Aid Funds was transferred to NAMFISA,” explains Grobler.
NAMFISA has a number of statutory objectives when it comes to Nammed and other medical aid funds, including to protect their interests and members, and to monitor their solvency and financial soundness.
Nammed is also an affiliated member of the Namibian Association of Medical Aid Funds (NAMAF), established to control, promote, encourage and coordinate the development of medical aid funds in Namibia. Through NAMAF, Grobler recognises the urgent need to find innovative solutions that will curb the unsustainable escalating cost of medical services.
“Personally, I am very concerned about the rising cost of all medical services, which may culminate in the general unaffordability of medical aid funds and the total collapse of the medical aid funding industry with disastrous consequences in the near future,” he says.
“The rise of medical costs boils down to the use of technology, the cost of regulation, supplier- and member-induced demand, insufficient claims adjudication by administrators, as well as fraud, waste and abuse.”
CHOICE OF OPTIONS
Despite this stark warning, Nammed has gone from strength to strength over the years, today offering a range of quality, affordable medical aid options to members across Namibia.
At one end, members of the reasonably-priced Basic cover have access to a network of contracted primary healthcare service providers; at the other, Comprehensive members reap the premium healthcare benefits associated with hospitalisation and day-to-day medical expenses, ideal for those wishing to cover their medical costs to the greatest possible extent or those with health risks that may be perceived as high.
With further medical aid options including Active, Core, Trauma, Essential and Standard cover, Nammed caters for all the individual health needs and financial means of its members, applying innovative and unique methods to ensure that their requirements are met.
Members often believe that they should purchase the maximum amount of cover that they can afford, with little or no regard for the specific benefits of each aid option for their actual medical needs.
With Nammed’s new Life Stages approach, however, choosing the right option is made easy, as options are tailored to different age groups and the health needs that generally correlate with those groups.
Active cover, for instance, is aimed towards young, single members or smaller families that are in good health, whilst the Essential medical aid option is the ideal healthcare solution for individuals or families between the ages of 26 and 55.
“Our current client base consists of large employer groups in the mining, insurance, financial and business sectors, as well as smaller SME groups and individuals all over the country,” Grobler outlines.
When it comes to members, there are two major factors that give Nammed a competitive edge in the market.
“Our members are not just a number; we regard them as people and families whose health we truly care about. We know them by name and our interaction with them is personalised.
“Nammed’s service to members and health care providers is second to none,” affirms Grobler.
PROJECT NAMMED 2025
Optimising the options offered based on well-researched market needs, the Nammed Board of Trustees is progressing with the implementation of Project Nammed 2025, in order to meet the challenges facing the medical aid industry and to ensure the sustainability of the fund.
The Board of Trustees, headed by Chairman, P.D. Theron, are responsible for making the educated decisions needed to ensure that the fund is regarded as a trusted name in healthcare across Namibia.
The trustees undertook a comprehensive strategic planning process when it came to designing Project Nammed 2025 to ensure the fund remains relevant and competitive, reflective of the resolve and commitment of the entire Board to serving the needs of the fund.
Thus, the overall aim of Project Nammed 2025 is for the organisation to compete across various market segments, namely the basic, low, medium and high cover markets.
Nammed’s Standard and Comprehensive options are highly competitive in the high cover market, whilst the Essential cover is on par with the medium-to-high offerings of other medical aid funds. But in order to increase competitiveness, Nammed has embarked on an option design and restructuring process, informed by research findings on the income levels and healthcare needs of Namibians.
Of the seven medical aid options currently offered by Nammed, the Option Consolidation Project will reduce and simplify this selection to four or five by 2025, with the consolidation of the Core and Active options being the first step.
“Our market research has showed that the biggest challenge for the public is the complexity of the different product offerings on the market. They find it very difficult to compare the different options and make the correct choice,” notes Grobler.
“Project Nammed 2025 is geared towards a solution for the complexity of healthcare, as it aims to simplify Nammed’s offerings on the market.”
Transparency is key for Nammed in delivering the benefits of its medical aid options, as the fund wants members to fully understand exactly what they receive with their chosen cover.
As part of Project Nammed 2025, the fund is also in the process of restructuring the Basic option for the low-income market, as well as investigating a possible name change.
Meanwhile, Nammed has identified a gap in the medium-to-low market, presenting a value opportunity for increasing competitiveness as the options are restructured.
Nammed already offers highly competitive contribution rates on all options for groups larger than 200, however the feasibility of offering the same contributions to groups of over 100 people are also being investigated, in parallel with efforts underway to attract younger individuals to the Trauma option, which is ideal for members wishing to only cover hospital costs.
As well as Project Nammed 2025, which will aim to grow the fund as fast as possible, the Nammed Board of Trustees has approved a new brand strategy for the fund, to be implemented from 2022 onwards.
“The new brand strategy is very exciting, it will definitely change the current landscape in which we operate and I’m truly looking forward to it,” Grobler adds.
“To position the fund to execute these strategies, we will recruit a Stakeholder Relationship Manager, a Marketing Assistant, and a short-term Marketing Consultant to increase the human capacity of the fund for the tasks ahead.”
In line with Namibia’s national goals to fight against COVID-19, Nammed will continue to fund testing, vaccinations and other treatments that members may need during the pandemic.
It follows a reduction in the number of claims experienced by the fund, primarily due to lockdowns and limited access to facilities for elective procedures, in a year characterised by circumstances never before seen in the history of Namibia.
“The country experienced a very serious wave of COVID-19 infections between May and July of 2021,” shares Grobler.
“Nammed ensured access to medical services for members and supported healthcare providers by adapting its rule interpretations to better suit the crisis situation.”
With members increasingly conscious of their healthcare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nammed’s informed choice of medical aid options are more important than ever.