Motsoaledi’s pill better be sweet

We just hope the medicine prescribed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi doesn’t prove to be worse than the ailment.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is correct in his diagnosis that South Africa’s health care security needs intensive care.

SA’s government hospitals and clinics are under-funded and overloaded, while patients often get neglected or treated with disrespect.

Our private sector is well-funded, competent and the obvious choice for anyone who has money or a job which comes with medical aid. It is so successful that our medical groups are big profit makers for their shareholders, while companies specialising in providing medical aid have, according to the minister, done so well that they have managed to accumulate reserves of almost R60 billion.

He maintains that a lot of that golden nest egg has come at the expense of ordinary medical aid members, saddled with contributions whose increases exceed the rate of inflation and who are doubly hurt by having to pay shortfalls on co-payments on medical bills from their own pockets.

However, we wonder if the touted National Health Insurance (NHI) – and the accompanying raft of changes to legislation relating to medical schemes – is the right way to go about it.

The details of how the NHI will work and its impact on ordinary people are still vague, even in the minds of experts. But it seems fair to say middle class people might be in danger of double taxation by contributing to the NHI and, additionally, to a medical aid.

The scheme will also cost an enormous amount of money – the source of which is equally opaque at this stage.

Critics have accused Motsoaledi and the ANC government of embarking on the NHI as a way of covering up their pitiful lack of health service delivery, as well as by a desire to convert this country into some kind of socialist paradise.

We just hope the medicine prescribed by Motsoaledi doesn’t prove to be worse than the ailment.

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