As a valued member of Bankmed, our number one priority during the COVID-19 pandemic is to keep you and your loved ones informed, safe and most importantly covered!

Bankmed is taking the COVID-19 outbreak seriously and has decided to offer our members the best possible cover during this period of infection.

How are you covered?

We have tailor-made a basket of care to meet the unique needs of our members during this pandemic.

COVID-19 Isolation Hotel benefit

Through our administrator, Bankmed is able to offer an additional benefit, giving members access to Isolation Hotels. These isolation hotels provide members diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to and tested for COVID-19, an alternative place to self-isolate.

It must be emphasized that this project is in its pilot phase because it has not reached a country-wide level of maturity. The hotel rooms for this initiative  have a limited capacity and it is advised to call the hotel to make a booking BEFORE going to the hotel.  The hotel will not allow check-in without pre-authorisation and a confirmed booking. Diligent efforts are being made to scale this up across other cities and metropolitan areas but this will depend on the willingness of other hotel groups to participate in this initiative.  

How do I access the benefit?

Virtual and Telephonic consultations

As a Bankmed member, you can now consult with your Healthcare Professional in the comfort and safety of your home*.

We offer you a virtual (video call) and telephonic consultation option.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) required that specific prerequisites are met for a virtual consultation to be considered valid. These were as follows:

  1. There must be a pre-existing relationship between the Healthcare Professional and the member.
  2. There must have been a face-to-face consult within the last six months.

These prerequisites have since been relaxed by the HPCSA to improve access to care during the pandemic. The only requirement during this time is to ensure that you and your Healthcare Professional agree on the virtual consultation platform to facilitate this process.

*Plan benefit rules apply. However, telephonic and virtual consultations are reimbursed at lower rates than a face-to-face consultation.

COVID-19 risk assessment

You can understand your risk status at any point in time by completing the COVID-19 risk assessment. The assessment is a set of questions which determines if you may be presenting with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to COVID-19 infection and need a consultation with a doctor.

Start your assessment

Pulse oximeter

Some high risk members with COVID-19 that develop pneumonia may suffer from oxygen deprivation, or “silent hypoxia”. For these members, a pulse oximeter can detect oxygenation problems at an early stage, and will allow for early treatment referral before members are critically ill.

The benefits for high-risk COVID-19 positive members includes funding for a pulse oximeter and monitoring of the member. The benefit includes funding of appropriate consultations (up to 3 consults with a wellness consultant) to track and monitor oxygen-saturation levels with appropriate referral to a GP where necessary.”

Members who qualify for the pulse oximeter device are those with confirmed COVID-19 disease who have been identified as potentially at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease due to:

  • Their age
  • Their underlying chronic medical conditions
  • And who meet the Scheme’s clinical entry criteria.

Once a member is identified, the member will receive a call from the Oximeter Support call centre. Arrangements will be made for the device to be couriered. Discovery Health has partnered with Dis-Chem for this initiative. Dis-Chem will courier the device with the patient brochure.

In-and-out of hospital treatment

Bankmed will cover the cost of treatment in- and out-of-hospital if a member is diagnosed as positive for COVID-19 from our Insured (Risk) Benefit.

Diagnostic testing

Bankmed will cover the cost for a COVID-19 test for members across all Plans from our Insured (Risk) Benefit, subject to Diagnostic testing in accordance with the NICD protocol and referral by your Healthcare Professional (regardless of a negative or positive result).

Relaxed network restrictions

Bankmed will waive network restrictions for the COVID-19 condition only so that members have convenient access to all available hospitals, specialists and General Practitioners during this pandemic. The relaxation of network restrictions is specific to COVID-19 because this outbreak requires emergency intervention.

Frequently asked questions

COVID-19 is an infection caused by a type of Coronavirus. The primary means of spread seems to be saliva-droplet based spread. This is similar to the common cold and seasonal flu. COVID-19 appears to be more infectious than the seasonal flu with an infection rate that is 1.5 to 2 times higher than seasonal flu. Reassuringly, however, the vast majority of people who contract COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms, including a potential fever, a cough and shortness of breath.

You can check the live tracker on this illness for updates on confirmed cases. You can also view daily situation reports to keep informed.

The primary symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

COVID-19 spreads quickly, through:

  • Coughing or sneezing – people could catch COVID-19 if they are standing within one metre of a person who has the illness, by breathing in droplets coughed out or exhaled by the ill person
  • Close personal contact, such as when shaking hands or touching others
  • Touching an object or surface on which the virus is found (after a sick person coughs or exhales close to these objects or surfaces such as desks, tables or telephones), then - before washing the hands – touching the mouth, nose, or eyes

Healthcare Professionals can only treat the symptoms of COVID-19 as they present. No specific therapy is effective against the virus itself. If you meet any of the criteria listed below, you must seek medical care early and share your previous travel history with your Healthcare Professional.

When to seek medical care:

  • If you have acute respiratory illness and suddenly have a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever (≥ 38°C)
  • Were in close contact with someone who had a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 infection
  • If you have travelled to areas with presumed ongoing community transmission of COVID-19
  • If you have worked in or attended a health care facility where patients with COVID-19 infections were being treated
  • If you have been admitted with severe pneumonia of unknown aetiology

People who contract the COVID-19 may take anywhere from one to 14 days to develop symptoms. Even if you have not recently travelled to a COVID-19-affected region, or had contact with an individual who has been affected by the illness, you must still inform your Healthcare Professional if you meet the criteria listed above. A virtual consultation is an excellent way to consult with your Healthcare Professional.  

South African hospitals are prepared at national and regional levels to manage a potential outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa. All private hospitals have communicated their immediate readiness and preparedness to manage cases of COVID-19. All hospitals are being universally guided by a framework that includes case definition and management, suspected case testing, reporting and surveillance.

Bankmed, in partnership with our Administrator, has introduced a range of initiatives to support our members during COVID-19. These initiatives included detailed analytics and reporting to identify and understand the risks and needs of our members, new benefits to provide full financial indemnity against COVID-19, initiatives to protect high risk members against the severe effects of COVID-19, home care and monitoring for early detection of signs of deterioration, digital services for remote consultation and doctor support.

As the pandemic has progressed, much like the rest of the world, the healthcare system has experienced high volumes of COVID-19 related admissions, placing significant strain on ICU bed capacity. In regions where the capacity of hospital beds – particularly ICU beds – comes under strain, Bankmed will do everything in our power to ensure that every single member who requires ICU care, receives this at the highest standards. If necessary, this includes contingency planning to transport members to an available ICU bed, where appropriate. We are fortunate that as we have seen volumes peak recently in various provinces, including the Western cape, Eastern cape and Gauteng, there have been sufficient beds in the private hospitals to accommodate all patients needing urgent care.

Our Administrator, is working very closely with the private hospital groups; with whom we have longstanding relationships. This includes regular check-ins on the capacity of the private hospitals, and particularly the availability of ICU beds for urgent cases. In the event that ICU bed capacity is seen to be threatened or diminishing to dangerously low levels, we will work with the hospitals, the treating doctors, and the members’ families to move members being treated for non-COVID related conditions, to ICUs where sufficient surplus capacity exists. This would serve to free up additional capacity, in the pressurised and overloaded ICUs.

We are optimistic that as a result of the healthcare infrastructure contingencies, and extra resources added during the lockdown, that there will be sufficient healthcare resources to meet the country’s and our members’ needs. We do, however, encourage preventative and social distancing measures, including reminders of available benefits and services that our members have access to, in the context of the rising infection rate.

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, emerging experience from other parts of the world, as well as data highlights the importance for members to understand and manage their health risks during COVID-19.