There are confirmed reports that the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) is plotting to scrap smaller medical aids in South Africa.

CMS announced that it would consolidate or dissolve small medical schemes.

The aim is to bring the industry in line with the incoming National Health Insurance (NHI) regulations.

According to CMS, Medical schemes with fewer than 6,000 principal members will no longer be allowed to operate within the country.

CMS said this will have an impact on 228 000 people.

Lower income families and a number of people who get their medical aid as an employer benefit will be hit the hardest.

CMS acting registrar Sipho Kabane confirmed that the changes were made to bring medical aids in line with the NHI white paper.

“It isn’t just about noncompliance [with the act]. This is just the beginning. In NHI, we will have one risk pool: from 83 medical schemes in SA, we will consolidate into one.”

“We are going through a consultative process, to come up with a clear mandate on how this will be achieved,” said Kabane.

The road ahead to universal healthcare is paved with legal and constitutional challenges, it seems.