Picture: Bongani Shilubane
CAPE TOWN - The new National Health Insurance (NHI) policy will have no impact on private care prices, Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi said on Sunday.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the minister said that the current health system is failing both the the poorest and richest people in South Africa.

“Firstly, in all likelihood it should not increase the cost of private healthcare, I am dead sure about that. The NHI, free education, pensions . . . will always be funded by the state, which comes from the four tiers of tax,” Motsoaledi said.

The minister also noted that the controversial estimates of R259 billion to implement the programme was a mere “thumb-suck by an accounting company”.

“We made a mistake with the figures. I then went for advice to the World Bank and the World Health Organisation and they asked why am I trying to do this, it can’t be quantified by any human being because the costs are so variable.”

“You cannot balance books against service delivery on human life,” Motsoaledi said.

Not his fault

The health minister said that South Africa’s disastrous health sector is not entirely his fault. He believes that a massive reorganisation needs to take place.

“Let me tell you the problem with South Africans on this issue. We have an extraordinarily expensive private health service on the one hand. You believe the minister is a madman to talk about it,” he said.

“You don’t believe the fees are too high, but it is blackmail what private healthcare charges. It is unregulated and it is robbery.”

Motsoaledi said that there are four major sectors that need to be tackled as he implements the new NHI programme.

These include: Human resources; procurement and management of infrastructure; financial management and maintenance of equipment.

#NHI will stop medical schemes exploiting members

Motsoaledi said in late June that medical aids in SA have been ripping off members by charging them exorbitant premiums. The minister is gunning for medical aids in a bid to shake up the industry.

On several occasions, the sector has come under fire for charging high fees to patients. Motsoaledi said the National Health Insurance (NHI) would put a stop to this practice.

In his proposed amendments, Motsoaledi called for the phasing out of medical aid co-payments and prescribed minimum benefits as well as "unequal and unfair" benefit options offered by schemes, among other things.

On average, a comprehensive medical aid cover costs middle-income households anything between R1 000 and R4 000 a month.

The World Health Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have also revealed that only 10% of South Africans can afford private healthcare.