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Thursday, 10 May 2007 - The Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) today announced a membership total in excess of 127 000 principal members, representing medical scheme coverage for approximately 355 000 lives. This steady growth means that GEMS has, within the first four months of 2007, virtually doubled its membership. The scheme is now the fourth largest medical scheme in the country.
"We have recorded impressive growth since we became operational in January last year. During this period we have had a relapse rate of only 1,76% and these were mostly due to members leaving the employ of the public service. An increasing membership base is not our primary objective but it certainly is an indicator we use to gauge the manner in which employees perceive our benefit and service offering," says Dr Eugene Watson, Principal Officer of GEMS.
At an operational level, the Scheme has adapted well to the increased volumes of activity. In the months of January to April this year the GEMS call centre received over 350 000 calls, more than 25 000 sms' and processed over 15 000 e-mails. Whilst attending to this work, the prevalence of member complaints remained below 0,4% of the total member contacts this year.
"The applications come from over 110 departments in the public service and right across our country's regions. Interestingly, our membership base in the Eastern Cape has shown a monthly growth of 25% since December last year and we now cover more than 20% of the employees in the Northern Cape," continues Dr Watson. "The most popular benefit option seems to be Emerald while our lowest-cost option, Sapphire, is growing its membership at a brisk pace."
GEMS members are currently in the process of voting for member elected representatives to the GEMS Board of Trustees. In total, the scheme has received 75 applications for nominations. They have been narrowed down to 55 eligible nominees, all principal members belonging to GEMS, whose details have been sent to all members for participation in the voting process.
"Through this inaugural trustee election members will be choosing 50% of the trustees to serve on the Board of Trustees. We have received a broad spectrum of nominees, from a variety of departments, salary levels, sectoral experience, educational backgrounds, races and both genders," says Dr Watson. "By choosing who they want to have as trustees on the Board, GEMS members will be empowered through the knowledge that the money they entrust to the scheme is looked after and spent with due care, diligence, skill and in good faith."
The conclusion of the Scheme's first financial year and audit, the election process and the continued operational excellence are indicative of the manner in which GEMS seeks to fulfil its promise of service excellence. The election process ends on 28 May 2007.