Theoretically, everyone does have access to all of this, but in practice the service provided by the state, despite the considerable funds budgeted every year, is generally woefully inferior.
The National Health Insurance (NHI) Scheme Bill, which was finally introduced to Parliament on Thursday is an attempt by the government to redress the parlous state of state-run health care in this country by forcing all medical professionals to treat all patients and then be paid from a national fund.
There are many concerns about the bill that is before Parliament, chief among which is the lack of detail about what medical procedures will be covered and what will not be covered, to say nothing of the fact that the pilot scheme has achieved mixed results so far.
That notwithstanding, the government is determined to roll out what appears to be an imperfect scheme on to a failing system and fund it through what it terms “social solidarity” - a euphemism for even more tax to meet the initially estimated cost of R256billion.
This is a dangerous precedent for many reasons. What are the implications for other aspects of South African life where those who can, pay their taxes for the benefit of others yet still choose private alternatives because they want to, like security, education and even housing?
Most of all though, with the potential implosion of Eskom looming like a perpetual pall over the entire South African economy, what does it say for a government that is never held to account for its own failures, yet is meekly allowed to keep taxing but never fixing?
This may not be the right time to consider implementing the NHI.
The Saturday Star