Unrecognizable senior man lies in hospital bed. Focus is on the man's hand. A healthcare professional is working in the background.
Minister Motsoaledi explained that there was considerable inequality in access to healthcare in South Africa that had to be put right. More than half of the doctors in South Africa serve only 16% of the country’s population – those who belong to medical aid funds or who can afford to pay for medical services themselves.
As far as medical specialists in South Africa are concerned, 80% are working in the private sector and only 20% in the public sector to serve 84% of the population.
He sharply criticised the highly expensive private hospitals and private medical practitioners: “overservicing of the rich and gross underservicing of the poor”. Access to healthcare in rural areas is even worse.
The NHI is based on the principle that all have the right to access to healthcare services, which have to be provided free of charge at the point of use, and that all have a choice of whom they want to use as health workers.
Furthermore, the principle of social solidarity or cohesion applies: those who can afford it, help to care for those who cannot afford it. The aim is that the rich should not be able to buy better care while the poor cannot afford good healthcare.
- The problem of inequality is not the result of exploitation in the private sector, but rather the result of mismanagement in the public sector. Those using state facilities receive little or no care. Government should correct its own shortcomings instead of punishing the private sector for providing good service.
- The 16% the Minister referred to are paying 51.6% of the total expenditure on healthcare. It is therefore dishonest to pretend that these 16% are improperly benefitting from the system, particularly taking into account that the very same 16% of citizens are also making the major contribution to the 48.4% of expenditure the state is funding from tax.
The high costs for medical care are simply aggravated by already existing superfluous state regulation. There is no indication that this proposal will actually force costs down – at least not without negatively affecting quality or accessibility.