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GEMS Medical Aid

About GEMS

GEMS (Government Employee Medical Scheme) is the official medical aid for government employees in South Africa. It was registered in January 2006 and has grown into one of the biggest medical schemes in South Africa understandably since the SA government is the single largest employer within the country. Prior to GEMS, many government employees belonged to other medical aids such as Bonitas, Prosano and Medihelp. However, there were also many government employees who could not afford medical aid cover. With GEMS monthly contributions being heavily subsidised by the government, now many more government workers have medical aid cover. It is one of the main restricted medical aids for state employees, the other being service-specific schemes like Polmed for police employees.

Why is GEMS better?

GEMS is open to government employees both at national and provincial level. It is a better option because it is subsidised scheme for government workers meaning that employees will pay less from their own pocket for the cover. GEMS has a good reputation for faster payment compared to some of the smaller medical aids that previously covered provincial and local government employees. In addition, GEMS is overseen by an independent board of trustees with half of them appointed by the Minister of Public Service and Administration. While membership with GEMS was largely voluntary, government employees are now required to be member of GEMS if they want to qualify for the state subsidy of their monthly medical aid contributions. This obviously makes it a better option for government employees, who are still allowed to belong to any other medical aid for their choice but not qualify for a subsidy if they are not covered by GEMS.

GEMS Medical Aid Plans

GEMS has five main medical aid plans, named after precious stones (gems). These plans include :

  • Sapphire (the lowest cover, often seen as the budget medical aid option for government workers)
  • Beryl
  • Ruby
  • Emerald (often preferred for having some of the better benefits with lower limits thereby making it affordable)
  • Onyx  (the top of the range, premium cover)

Contact Details

GEMS is currently administered by the Metropolitan Health Group (MHG). Its administrative office are in Cape Town.



GEMS Call Centre
Tel : 0860 00 4367
Fax : 0861 00 4367

Confidential HIV/Aids Line
Tel : 0860 100 646

Website : www.gems.gov.za

This is an independent write up on GEMS. It is not a paid review nor an official reference. We will not be held liable for an incorrect details or misuse of information in this article. Always refer to the GEMS website or call the scheme’s call centre for more information.