Constantly evolving social dynamics and natural phenomenon, have posed major threats to human life in recent times, forcing medical aid providers to think outside the boax. STAFF WRITER BAKANG TIRO engages Group Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Medical Aid (Bomaid), Moraki Mokgosana, to learn how they are tackling emerging challenges towards medical health funding.
• How long have you been at the helm at Bomaid?
MOKGOSANA (MM): I joined Bomaid on 1st December 2013 as the Principal Officer. At the time I was the sole employee and later recruited an Executive Assistant and we were a two-man team until 2016. At the time I joined, the administration of The Fund was outsourced to a wholly owned subsidiary of Bomaid called Southview. In 2016, the administration function was transferred back to my office and the position was re-designated to that of Group Chief Executive Officer which oversees the operations of Bomaid, Southview and, ultimately MRI. MRI Botswana Limited is owned 94% by Southview.
• Before coming to Bomaid, kindly reflect on your journey in the medical aid sector?
MM: My involvement prior to that was at a strategic level. I sat in the Board of one of the other medical aid funds. The fund has local ownership and is part owned by an international financial services conglomerate. I sat in the Board of that medical aid fund for about 7 years before I joined Bomaid. At the time I left, I was its Independent Non-Executive Chairman.
• As the man at the helm of Bomaid – what is your vision for the organization in the face of tough competition from established and emerging medical aid providers? What is the direction that the organization is taking under your leadership?
MM: Our vision is to be a companion for happier, healthier, lives for our members and the lives that we cover, in particular, and Batswana in general. It is true that the medical aid funding sector went through a period of intense rivalry that was underscored by a proliferation of new players. At one point we had almost 10 medical aid funds in Botswana. As I speak to you now there are four that are actively seeking growth in the market. This essentially means that only one of the new entrants has been able to endure.
The entry of new players presented an opportunity for us as the first entrant (and oldest player) to reevaluate our relevance and reinvent ourselves. I have been fortunate to be at the centre of the development and execution of the strategy to reposition our value proposition, brand position and, ultimately, consolidate the position of Bomaid in the market. The vision is inclined towards a shift from a curative to a preventative approach to health care funding as well as moving to a value-based outcomes health funding model. In everyday language, we are essentially saying that we have a vision where people are living better quality lives and we are working together proactively to delay the onset of some chronic medical conditions – especially the lifestyle ones. In the event that these conditions emerge, we would like to be there for our members to ensure that the funding is inclined towards getting the best clinical outcomes and assisting them in coping through the difficult times..
We are also constantly reviewing the social dynamics that prevail in these times that we live in and revisiting our attitude towards the funding. Examples of these are conditions that were previously not covered by medical aids like those associated with alcohol and substance abuse.
• You launched a new brand purpose last week by tag line “Bomaid: Health and Happiness at Heart” aimed at putting the customer first. Please share with us details of the brand transformation and how exactly the company is considering to implement it?
MM: The brand purpose is an affirmation of our strategic intent as articulated above. You may be aware that in 2016 we did a brand refresh where we changed the look and feel of our logo to give it a more modern outlook. We have also changed our tag line to be more representative of our thoughts. Generally, the brand transformation is part of our overall evolution. You will continue to see some changes in our corporate identity, product positioning, brand message and our delivery channels and our infrastructure over the next few years. All of this, we, expect, should culminate in an enhancement of the experience of our members in their interaction with Bomaid.
• COVID-19 pandemic has affected many businesses in different sectors of the economy. How did it affect Bomaid and what are the new opportunities presented by the challenges arising from COVID-19?
MM: Bomaid has not been spared the impact of the pandemic. The biggest impact is on the retention of members and the flow of premium income. The implications on the costs of healthcare have not kicked in to the same extend we have seen in other territories yet. Our client base extends to some of the sectors that have been adversely affected by local and international restrictions including travel and tourism, education, construction, manufacturing and retail. Most of our revenues come from contributions by both employer and employee and both are struggling to meet their basic needs at the moment. The opportunities are that the lockdown has pointed us to areas where there may be supplier induced costs that may assist us in better managing our costs with changes in protocols.
• The Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) which Bomaid is affiliated to forecasts that medical schemes will drastically change amid COVID-19 eroding reserves. What is the status of Bomaid’s reserves and will the reserves withstand the member funds in the middle of the pandemic?
MM: Covid-19 remains an enigma in terms of its impact on the reserves of medical aids in the region. The continent has been very lucky that the pandemic has not had the same devastating impact as we have seen in other parts of the world. We are, of course, faced with the “double-whammy” in that the impact will be on both the premium income and the healthcare costs but our actuarial modelling has indicated that we have sufficient reserves to absorb the impact if the situation should escalate. We are currently sitting with reserves of around 50% against a requirement of between 15 and 25%. One would be remiss, however, if they were not to commend the government for the efforts that have made been made thus far to curb the spread of the virus.
• Can you share details of how Bomaid performed in the past financial year? What milestones has Bomaid achieved in the past 12 months?
MM: Apart from the implementation of the Motswedi Project to deliver the Thobo System, we are very happy with the performance of the business. A few years ago, we were making substantial losses running into tens of millions of Pula. We have turned the corner and we expect to build on the momentum. For the year ended 31st December 2019, The Group made P744m in income and our reserve position was P356m leaving us with a claims cover of 7 months and a solvency position of around 50%. We believe we are well positioned to continue to look after our 39, 000 members and 85, 000 lives and to grow on this.
• What’s new, exciting and innovative products/services can we look forward to from Bomaid apart from the new Thobo System?
MM: We made some major product enhancements during 2020 at a significant cost to The Fund. This, we believe, presented an opportunity for Bomaid to further repackage our products to be relevant and abreast with the domestic and regional trends. We have made a commitment to continue to introduce new products and services into the market annually.
• In November last year Bomaid launched a New Fund Administration System under Project dubbed Motswedi. How is the initiative doing since its launch?
MM: The go live of the Thobo system was a major milestone for us at Bomaid. We believe it is going to be a game changer in enhancing our productivity, bolstering our customer service initiatives and helping us to mitigate on our financial risks. We have already started to harvest the fruits of this project and we encourage our stakeholders to continue to watch this space. We have incorporated self service capabilities into the system that come through web enabled functionalities and mobile applications. We are very excited about the opportunities that it presents for Bomaid staff, members and health care practitioners.
• Customers have commonly decried high rates they endure in medical aids and sometimes delays to claim reimbursements. What is Bomaid doing to deal with such concerns raised by medical aid subscribers (your members)?
MM: Interestingly medical aid premiums in Botswana are among the lowest in the region and, possibly, the world. The industry has tried very hard to keep the rates affordable even during times when there were supply side and other pressures. At Bomaid, we have remained committed to make medical insurance affordable by having products that cater for everybody’s pocket. We have worked strenuously to reduce our turnaround times on the settlement of claims and, we believe we have done very well on that front. Our commitment is to, ultimately, be able to assess and pay our claims within seven days of receipt. We haven’t perfected this yet, but we are getting there.
• You were recognized as one of the 101 most fabulous Healthcare Leaders in the world at the occasion of the 4th World Health and Wellness and 2nd World Mental Health Congress held in Mumbai, India this year February. Share with us about the award and what it means to you.
MM: I am humbled by the international award, indeed. Though it came as a personal accolade, I received it was conferred to me on behalf of the broader Bomaid The Fund, the visionary leadership of The Board and the energy and commitment of my colleagues, who have entrusted me to lead the organization through this journey of transformation. You will recall that we were also recognized by the Board of Health Funders (BHF) of Southern Africa in 2017 for our service to Membership in the open medical aid in the region. That Titanium Award was also a recognition of our efforts for Customer Excellence.
• You have been in the market for a reasonable period. Are your services accesible to the whole population, including far flung remote areas? If not, what are you doing to make Bomaid accessible to people in those areas without a hassle?
MM: Indeed. We have been in the Botswana market for the past 50 years. In fact, we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year. We have enjoyed loyalty from our members. We do not take this for granted and we believe that we should, and will, continue to reward them for this. Our range of products and services caters for all demographics in our community starting from the youngest to the oldest, the healthiest to the least healthy, the blue collar to the white collar and from the most remote parts of the country to the most urbane. We currently have presence at all the major private hospitals in the country and we have offices in Gaborone, Francistown and Maun. We actually have clients as far as Tsabong, Shakawe and Kasane – even in the delta.
• Bomaid is known for giving back to the community as your Corporate Social Investment (CSI). What are new CSI projects that customers/ members or the community can look forward to from the business?
MM: You will recall that we were one of the first corporate entities that contributed to the Presidential Covid-19 Fund with our P2 million donation at the start of the April lockdown. Through the call centre of our sister company, MRI, we have continued to support government initiatives in this regard. We have also been supporting the Adopt-A-School initiative for the last few years by adopting a school in Goo-Tau in the Tswapong region called the Gosemama Junior Secondary School. We have been sponsoring their annual excellence awards and are currently assisting them in refurbishing and upgrading their library. We have also partnered with the organisers of the Diacore Gaborone Marathon to support the SOS Village in Tlokweng. Our CSR initiatives have also extended through partnerships with the Lady Khama Charitable Fun, The Kidney Society, and the Cancer Association of Botswana through Team Chainring. Bomaid has also been supportive of the University of Botswana by sponsoring awards during the annual graduation ceremony.
Full name: Moraki Mokgosana
Education: Master of Business Leadership (UNISA), Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) (University of Botswana)
Family: Wife and 3 children. 2 girls and 1 boy.
Book currently reading: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.