One of the key issues higher education institutions face is the requirement imposed upon institutions by legislation governing the admission of international students. This legislation requires that each year every international student must have full medical cover for the entire current academic year before an institution may register such student.
The type of medical cover is also prescribed by the same legislation. It must be a South African product that is registered under the South African Council of Medical Schemes.
Over the years IEASA has steadily worked with their appointed healthcare consultants, Absa Healthcare, to establish the most suitable medical scheme products and has provided valued advice to institutions on the products to select for their students. The latest Absa/IEASA-approved panel exercise confirmed that Momentum (Ingwe) and Compcare (NetworX) are the preferred schemes.
There are a number of reasons for this:
- Affordable products, specially designed for the international student market
- Ability to accept an annual contribution upfront and to produce a certificate of membership for the full academic year
– as required to register a student
- Ability to handle application process electronically while students are still overseas
- Support on campuses throughout South Africa during registration periods and thereafter as required by universities
- The offering of repatriation benefits
- Stable offering, which has proven to be sustainable over a number of years
Further guidelines – period of cover, database, website communication and fraud
During a recent meeting between IEASA, Absa Healthcare and the two schemes, it was agreed:
- That the period of cover should always be 12 months, with the only exception where a student only arrives in South Africa during February. The reason for requiring cover until the end of December is to cover students who re-write papers or write supplementary examinations. There are also a number of students who remain in the country after completing their studies.
- For short courses up to 6 months, a minimum of 6 months cover must be purchased. This is in line with a recent change in Home Affairs rules.
- By allowing other products, universities open themselves up for contraventions of the cover requirement as prescribed above, in that students can cancel the cover shortly after registration.
- Universities should be able to report on the medical scheme membership of students from their database and should include medical scheme membership (also which scheme and membership number) on their databases.
We again urge universities to place the standard communication provided by Absa Healthcare on their websites.
This information will ensure consistency and guides students to apply for cover in their home countries via the links supplied. This is an easy, tested process and ensures adherence to the guidelines provided by IEASA. This electronic process also minimises the requirement of presence by the schemes or Absa Healthcare during registration periods. Both Momentum and Compcare also allow for renewal of existing membership electronically. The above, together with the support from Absa Healthcare on email@example.com phone +27 860 100 380, ensures an effective offering.
A further aspect regularly discussed at the IEASA Medical Scheme Committee meetings is fraud. We have seen a number of cases where the certificate of cover is fraudulently copied to reflect cover as required, while either the name or the study period has been changed.
For Momentum, embassies and universities/colleges can easily verify a student’s medical aid membership to combat fraud on www.ingwehealth.co.za. Simply click here to register online if you do not have access already.
Enter the passport number and country of origin and the students membership information (option, period of cover and confirmation letter) will display. The confirmation letter is available to download. This letter may be used to check the validity of the document the student submits with their application for a study visa or to register for the 2018 academic year.
Compcare can be contacted to supply similar information.
Absa Consultants and Actuaries January 2018
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