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AfriForum requests government to reconsider implementation of National Health Insurance

Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 26, 2022


Pretoria - The civil rights organisation AfriForum sent a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla today, in which it requested that the government reconsider the implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI).

This follows after Phaahla recently confirmed that the country has a shortage of doctors and a doctor-to-patient ratio of 0.32 to 100.

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AfriForum’s letter stated that NHI is unaffordable to the already overburdened taxpayer, who is taxed higher than in other countries with comparable GDPs and forced to pay “double taxes” for essential private services such as healthcare.

AfriForum argues that the centralised health fund will be susceptible to the exact same failures that have characterised nearly all State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

Perhaps most worrying, it said, is a 2021 poll from the South African Medical Association pointing toward the mass emigration of healthcare professionals in the event of the implementation of NHI.

As a solution AfriForum suggests that the government should begin by solving the pre-existing governance issues in the public health sector. Along with this AfriForum suggests further expanding and stimulating the private sector to ensure greater competition between medical aid providers, thus allowing the workings of the free market to drive down prices for purchasers.

“The recent confirmation by the minister of the severe shortages of doctors in South Africa, is just another example of why a state-monopoly health sector will be catastrophic,” the organisation said.

According to it, this letter is an attempt to achieve a constructive dialogue with the government in regards to the NHI.

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“However, if the letter falls on deaf ears, AfriForum will continue to oppose the proposed legislation with all the means available to us.

Our fight against NHI is one of the most important battles on which the very future of this country depends,” Reiner Duvenage, campaign officer for strategy and content at AfriForum said.

In its letter to government, it is said that the Solidarity Trade Union estimates that the implementation of the Bill will cause a R112 billion budget deficit that will have to be absorbed by the state.

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“Due to the government’s significant debt levels, the deficit cannot be funded through loans,” it said.

According to AfriForum the implementation of NHI will destroy the healthcare industry in its entirety.

It said it recognises that reform is needed in the healthcare industry. “However, our solution wholly differs from the NHI Bill’s approach of establishing a state monopoly over healthcare.

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The fact that the Western Cape Department of Health was the only health department to receive a clean audit in 2019/2020 shows that the government can begin to solve the healthcare conundrum by improving the prevailing poor standards of governance and administration in the public sector,” it is stated in the letter.

Pretoria News