Coronavirus News Africa

Lockdown: Can newborns be registered on medical aids without birth certificates?

With the restrictions imposed on the Department of Home Affairs during the extended nationwide lockdown, the issuing of birth certificates has been put on hold, causing anxiety among some parents who want to register their newborns as medical aid dependants. 

In terms of lockdown regulations, only limited services are being offered, namely the issuing of temporary identity certificates; the issuing of death certificates; and the reissuing of birth certificates – but not for new births.

These limited services were announced on 25 March at a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster media briefing ahead of the lockdown.

In normal circumstances, the birth of a newborn child must be registered with the department within 30 days. Registration of birth after 30 days is considered late registration and additional requirements apply.

The lockdown was officially implemented on 26 March and was extended to 30 April, leaving a gap of more than 30 days for many babies born within this period to obtain birth certificates. 

What do medical schemes say? 

News24 spoke to representatives from three major private medical aid providers to find out how registering newborns as dependants works. 

According to PPS Healthcare Administrators, the administrators of Profmed, when a baby is born, the hospital does not claim for the baby under normal circumstances.

The baby’s stay is covered under the mother. When a baby is admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the baby is admitted in their own right and thus a dependant registration is required, according to PPS. 

“We accept proof of birth from the hospital with the baby’s full name, surname and date of birth. 

“When the baby is being registered as a dependant on a different medical scheme (for instance the father’s medical aid), the registration requirements will be based on that medical scheme’s new business and/or underwriting policy.

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“For example, when a Profmed father wants to register a baby where the mother is not a Profmed dependant, we will follow the same process whereby we require proof of birth from the hospital, the baby’s full names, surname and date of birth. 

“With this in mind, the closure of [the Department of] Home Affairs will not affect the care of newborn babies,” PPS said in response to News24’s enquiry. 

Damian McHugh, executive at Momentum Health Solutions, also said Momentum didn’t require birth certificates to register a baby on the scheme.

“The member needs to complete the baby registration forms and forward these to the scheme within 30 days of the birth of the baby. Usually, the birth certificates are sent to us at a later stage, once the members receive them. This process has been in effect since before [the] lockdown,” said McHugh. 

Registration process extended

Karren Sanderson, chief operating officer of Discovery Health, said: “In order to assist our members, we have amended our newborn registration process until the end of April.”

She added that this date might be extended.

“For the time being, we will request the ID number to be provided on the application form, but if the parents have not yet received the ID number, we will activate the baby and keep record of the child to collect the ID number at a later stage.

“Typically, a newborn baby would not be added to a membership if we do not have a valid ID number unless it falls into one of our exceptions criteria,” Sanderson said.

“We will then try obtain the ID number using one of our third party vendors, if the vendor cannot source the information, we will make outbound calls to the members to obtain the information.”

News24 approached Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qosa about the matter.

Qosa said the matter was being discussed and that the department would make an announcement in due course. This includes provisions for “late” registrations in terms of the department’s normal procedures.

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