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Mediclinic News : Medical schemes should be celebrated not criticised

Title

Medical schemes should be celebrated not criticised

Date

2017-03-01

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News Description

Ophthalmology News Psychiatry News Pharmacy News Cardiology News By Jasson Urbach, Economist at the Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa Medical aid [schemes] are a crime against humanity... [and] an atrocity", were the words used by Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) president, Dr Kgosi Letlape, last month. If individuals using their own money to pay for their own and families' healthcare, while also paying taxes to fund the healthcare of others, is a crime against humanity, what would Letlape have made of the Nazi death camps, the Belgian rule of Congo, the Cambodia killing fields, or the Rwandan genocide? It's worth reminding Letlape that if more people are enrolled in private medical schemes, the state would have more money available to care for the truly destitute. Rather, Letlape seems more concerned with removing the socalled "twotier system" than trying to design an affordable mechanism to provide high quality healthcare for the poor. We have multitier systems at work when it comes to food, housing, clothing, and many other essentials. However, most people recognise that to drive private restaurants, real estate and clothing retailers out of existence and implement state-controlled delivery, will not provide food, housing and clothing to the poor. Indeed, aside from healthcare, South Africans have other constitutional rights, such as for housing and education. Healthcare should be treated the same way as these other rights. Government should look after the poor and leave the private market alone to provide for those able to provide for themselves. More specifically, the state should simply finance healthcare for the poor and leave the rest of the population to decide for themselves how to spend their money. The only question government should ask is: what is the best way for the poor to get highquality healthcare? It is neither necessary nor appropriate for the government to provide "free healthcare for all" because doing so would waste scarce taxpayer resources. Taxpayers could fund healthcare for those who cannot afford it, but where is the sense in interfering in the arrangements of those who can? The proposed NHI would concentrate power in the hands of the government officials who would be acting as both a player and a referee, leaving no room for private medical schemes to operate. Whether directly or indirectly, the government would control the availability, financing and delivery of our health care — the choice will no longer be ours to make. A compulsory NHI funding would serve the government's interests, not ours. The proposed mandatory payments into the central NHI fund will crowd out private insurance as cash strapped individuals will no longer be able to afford to pay their voluntary private insurance premiums on top of the mandatory NHI payments. Those unable to pay the two premiums will be forced to resort to using the already overstretched public health service. While the rich can hop on a plane and seek medical care anywhere they please, the poor and middleclass will be unable to escape the vagaries of the government controlled system. NHI would perversely increase the inequalities in healthcare and concentrate power in the hands of state officials, leaving no room for private medical schemes. Letlape estimates that there are 'between 3000 and 4000 medical professionals working for medical schemes that could be redistributed to the health system if schemes were abolished". That Letlape does not think medical schemes are part of the health system is revealing in and of itself. But his view that people can be "redistributed" harks back to a Soviet form of social engineering and has no place in a free democratic state. Letlape should know better. According to Liz Still who compiles the annual "Health Care in South Africa" publication, the public sector does not have enough posts available to employ South Africa's health professionals. For example, over the period 20022010, approximately 11 700 doctors graduated but only 4403 posts were created in the public sector. In the field of dentistry, there were 2140 graduates but only 248 public posts were concurrently created. If the private sector was abolished, where would our medical graduates find work? The current chaos in finding funded intern and community service posts for doctors and pharmacists corroborate this state of affairs. Dictating to people in the healthcare industry where they may or may not work raises the evil spectre of an apartheid-style form of social planning. This is not welcome — especially after so many South Africans fought so long and hard for their freedoms from an overbearing state. Given the country's bleak economic growth forecast, chronic unemployment situation, narrow tax base, and a ballooning budget deficit, South Africa simply cannot afford a system of nationalised health care. South Africans must be free to choose. The proposed NHI will destroy the private healthcare sector and South Africans will no longer have any choice when it comes to their healthcare. Private medical schemes are the opposite of a crime against humanity. They increase access to quality care and provide greater consumer choice, which leads to greater health system responsiveness.
Created at 2017/04/06 04:40 PM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2017/04/06 04:40 PM by Mediclinic