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Durban - South African doctors in private practice strongly oppose the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and believe that about 40% of doctors would emigrate if a universal health-care system was implemented.

Economists and health experts have echoed the doctors’ concerns.

The SA Medical Association (Sama), which represents 17000 doctors across the country, said the organisation could not support the bill, as it was tantamount to creating a “monopoly” in the health-care sector.

The bill is a financing system that pools funds and aims to provide universal access to quality health care for all South African and non-South African citizens, regardless of their financial ability to pay or socio-economic status.

Sama said: “The establishment of the NHI as a single, monopolistic purchaser for health care opens its structures up to large-scale corruption.”

The organisation said the changes the bill proposed could cause wide-scale harm to the delivery of health care if they were not managed properly, and that the bill had been introduced during a time where there was deep public mistrust of the government.

Sama said it had conducted a survey among its members and found that members from the public and private health-care sector placed little faith in NHI moving from the planning and strategising stages to being implemented.

In the survey, Sama found that 38% of respondents said they would consider emigrating if the NHI was fully implemented.

Only 39% of doctors said they would not leave, 17% were unsure and 6% would emigrate for other reasons, the report said.

Economist Dawie Roodt said the NHI was expensive and there was not enough money to fund it.

He said the government did not have the competency to see through its implementation and this would cause widespread damage.

Daily News