MASERU – Medical expenses are every individual’s concern yet private health services leave a lot to be desired though expensive. This has led to the introduction of a new medical scheme, in light of the fact that most Basotho cannot afford more than a few days of hospitalisation with medical care from specialists. “Many cannot even afford the deposit to be admitted to a hospital. Medical aid is the only option for the average earning citizen to access private health services, Betma medical scheme executive director Dr Teboho Bulane has said.
As a result, Betma medical scheme, a registered Lesotho medical scheme and Rocker Air, a leading helicopter emergency service provider and air rescue provider in South Africa, joined hands to provide a world class helicopter emergency service and air rescue in Lesotho at affordable costs to the general public of Lesotho. He said initially, the initiative was intended for 60 000 families of the Lesotho government active employees and pensioners and their dependents, but it is now opened to all ordinary Basotho. Dr Bulane said Lesotho’s public healthcare services system is overstretched resulting in undesirable patients’ outcomes.
According to Dr Bulane, the ministry of health and WHO revealed that in 2019, 33.1 percent of the Lesotho population did not access the health services they needed due to long waiting time for health services and financial challenges. “For any Basotho family wanting to get subsidised helicopter ambulances, air rescue services and general public medical aid registration is free. “The subsidised Betma general public medical aid, helicopters emergency service and air rescue are restricted to ordinary Basotho public and their nominated beneficiaries,” Dr Bulane added.
For the purpose of implementing public employees, public representatives and their nominated beneficiaries medical aid plan, he said Betma has secured $10 000 000 000 annually. The pledged funds he said were primarily intended to be used as a grant to the Lesotho government. The grant was to be used to subsidise the Lesotho government contributions for Betma Public Employees Medical Aid plan. “The grant is intended to run for a renewable period of five years. The grant will be administered by Betma Medical Scheme,” he added. He further noted that: “Based on our current findings, the Lesotho Public employees’ salaries are burdened by the monthly deductions, which negatively affect their affordability limits.
“We have worked a user-friendly and affordable minimum monthly contribution which each of the public members can contribute. As stated earlier on, the proposed monthly premium of M475.00 for a family of five.” A joint research by the ministry of health and WHO published September 2022, described out-of-pocket health expenditure in Lesotho as having reached catastrophic level for the household spending, whereby about 52.1 percent of the household net income is spend on the out-of-pocket health expenditure. According to the Ministry of Health, the government of Lesotho spends around M12 million per month only on the public healthcare for special diagnosis and treatment in South Africa.