BETWEEN 2002 and 2018, the percentage of individuals covered by a medical aid scheme in South Africa increased marginally from 15.9 to 16.4 percent. Supplied
JOHANNESBURG – Data from Statistics South Africa on Tuesday showed that more than 47 million South Africans did not have medical aids, with just 9.4 million people enjoying the benefit.

The stats agency said that between 2002 and 2018, the percentage of individuals covered by a medical aid scheme increased marginally from 15.9 percent to 16.4 percent in 2018.

“During this period, the number of individuals who were covered by a medical aid scheme increased from 7.3 million to 9.4 million persons.

"More than one-fifth (22.6 percent) of South African households had at least one member who belonged to a medical aid scheme,” StatsSA said.

The data further found that Western Cape and Gauteng had the most people covered by medical aids, while Limpopo and Eastern Cape had the lowest coverage numbers.

The stats agency said its research showed that 72.9 percent of white individuals were members of a medical aid scheme, compared to 52 percent of Indian/Asian individuals, while only 9.9 percent of black Africans were covered by a medical aid scheme.

The Council for Medical Schemes this month launched an investigation into allegations of racial profiling against black and Indian private medical practitioners.

The total cost of fraud in the South African private healthcare system is estimated at R22 billion each year. In February private healthcare representatives signed a charter as a pledge to combat fraud, waste and abuse.

South Africa’s ailing public healthcare sector has been one of the many sectors in need of urgent attention.

The ruling ANC wants to im- plement the National Health Insurance, a health financing system that is designed to pool funds to provide access to quality affordable personal health services for all South Africans based on their health needs, irrespective of their socio-economic status.

The Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) of southern Africa conference, to be held in July, is expected to look into designing practical implementable steps to take towards achieving the desired healthcare system for the region.

Dr Katlego Mothudi, the managing director of the BHF, said South Africa had a fairly well-developed private healthcare sector, yet, the country’s healthcare system was still not integrated, which has resulted in disparity in reaching desired healthcare outcomes.