Glimmer of hope for PSEMAS suspended pensioners

Eba Kandovazu

CABINET has approved the re-registration of 15 162 pensioners who in September were suspended for failing to contribute to the Public Service Employees Medical Aid Scheme (PSEMAS) fund and to re-apply for medical aid when they retired.

Amnesty will be provided to the pensioners who failed to re-apply for medical aid when they retired and it has been decided to consider payment arrangements and conditions of their monthly contributions in arrears to activate the benefits. Information and Communication Technology Minister, Peya Mushelenga, has also announced that government has decided to terminate the PSEMAS membership of pensioners who reside outside Namibia.

In September, the Finance Ministry said the suspension followed a PSEMAS membership verification, which found that the affected pensioners have been benefiting from the medical aid scheme since their retirement. The Public Services Staff rule on PSEMAS stipulates that members apply for the medical aid scheme at the Finance Ministry 90 days from the date of retirement or risk the forfeiture of such rights. The same rule also provides that a member forfeits her rights if they are found in arrears for three months.

Mushelenga explains that PSEMAS members who are to be referred to other countries due to a lack of specialised medical treatment in Namibia, will be required to seek approval before commencing with the treatment outside the country, adding that the Fund’s benefits remain applicable within the borders of Namibia. He adds that pensioners will no longer need to be members of the Government Institutions Pension Fund(GIPF) to qualify for PSEMAS, going forward.

With this new development, pensioners who retired before independence will be allowed to make payments through other means, Mushelenga stresses. Membership of retirees who were not PSEMAS members for the mandatory two years will be terminated.

“Cabinet further directed the Ministry of Finance to ensure prudent management of all PSEMAS member contributions, and to strengthen cooperation with GIPF to expedite the process of retirees monthly deductions for medical aid and income tax,” Mushelenga states.

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