Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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.

1. Diagnostic testing (regardless of a negative or positive result)

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).

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

This service is being offered through the Capital Hotel Group in Sandton (Gauteng). 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 are only available in Sandton at this stage, and capacity is limited. 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 this benefit?

Option 1: Self-isolate at the hotel while awaiting your COVID-19 test results

You are awaiting your test result and wish to self-isolate away from home. You can access this benefit while you wait for your COVID-19 test result for up to a maximum of 7 days, however, as soon as you receive a negative result you must leave the hotel as the benefit will no longer be available. If your test result comes back positive while you are at the hotel, you can continue the duration of your stay up until a maximum of 14 days. This is inclusive of, and not in addition to, the number of days you have already been in isolation at the hotel.

Option 2: Self-isolate at the hotel only once you have been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19

You can access the Isolation Hotel benefit for up to a maximum of 14 days once you test positive for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Isolation Hotel service includes the following:

  • A hotel room equipped for isolation, where transmission of the virus is minimised
  • Three meals a day while in isolation
  • A daily (virtual) medical check-up by a Healthcare Professional, with a registered nurse
    on-site and general practitioner support available to the nurse if it is required
  • Emergency medical transport to the nearest hospital if hospitalisation is required

Through an agreement between the Capital Hotel Group in Sandton and our administrator and Bankmed’s tailor-made basket of care, you are able to receive a reduced rate so that you only have a co-payment of R400 per day (standard room**). The normal claims process will apply and you must obtain pre-authorisation before the Isolation Hotel benefit can be activated.

**If you choose to upgrade your room from a standard room, you will be liable for the additional shortfalls.

What do I do if I have been diagnosed positive for COVID-19?

  1. You will receive a letter that gives you details of your cover. If you have not received the benefit letter, you can call us on 0800 BANKMED (0800 226 5633) to confirm the COVID-19 diagnosis and to send the letter confirming your cover.
  2. Call the Capital Hotel Group in Sandton to confirm their rates and to book. Quote the authorisation number you received from the Scheme.
  3. Present the authorisation letter (print or electronic) when you check in and pay the reduced rate directly to the hotel for the period that you will be staying in isolation.

What do I do while I am are waiting for my COVID-19 test results?

If your Healthcare Professional suspects that you have COVID-19 and you are waiting for test results, you are eligible for this reduced rate at one of the hotels for a maximum of seven days, but you have to leave the hotel as soon as possible if the test results turn out to be negative, and you are advised about this sooner than the maximum seven days allowed.

  1. Call Bankmed on 0800 BANKMED (0800 226 5633) to get an authorisation number for the seven-day stay at the hotel.
  2. Call the hotel to confirm their rates and to book. Quote the authorisation number you received from the Scheme.
  3. Present the authorisation number when you check in and pay the reduced rate directly to the hotel.

The reduced rate will no longer apply if you get a negative test result for COVID-19 and you will receive a refund of the payment you made for the additional days. With a test result confirming that you have COVID-19, the authorisation for isolation at the hotel will be extended.

COVID-19 General FAQs

1. What is COVID-19?

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.

2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection?

The primary symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

3. How does the virus spread?

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

4. When should individuals consult with their Healthcare Professional?

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.  

5. Are private hospital’s prepared?

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.