A Calm Discussion On How To Build Universal Healthcare Is Required

28 Days(s) Ago    👁 63
a calm discussion on how to build universal healthcare is required

South Africas health care is not coping. We need a calm discussion on how to build universal health care.

One appreciates that in the excitement to scrounge up votes, opposition parties condemn anything the government does, irrespective of its merit.

Equally, given that the majority of voters have never trusted opposition parties to run anything more than a municipality or the Western Cape Provincial Government, its easy for opposition parties to promise voters heaven and earth knowing full well they will never be asked to deliver on their slogans.

South Africas government led by the ANC has been discussing how we can fulfil all citizens constitutional right to health care, develop a roadmap to universal health care and build a National Health Insurance for many years.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the National Health Insurance Act this past week, as he has been signing many other bills passed by Parliament as it reaches the end of its term. This is what he was elected to do!

Most industrialised countries spend 5% of their GDP on health care. South Africa exceeds that at 8.5%. Yet we are not achieving the impact we desire because of the skewed distribution of these resources.

Over half, R280 billion, goes towards private health care catering for the 16% of society able to afford medical aid.

While private health care provides world class health care to those lucky enough to afford it, it is extremely expensive to medical aid members, in particular workers, through exorbitant monthly premiums, out of pocket payments and the depletion of day-to-day benefits early in the year.

Over the past decade, a quarter of medical aids have gone out of business as members can no longer afford the massive price increases imposed by private hospitals driven by profits.

Public health care with a smaller allocation of R279 billion caters for the 84% of society without medical aid, overwhelming working-class families.

While health-care workers try their level best to provide quality health care, it cannot be a surprise that they struggle when critical posts are vacant, nurses and doctors are working double shifts, theres a shortage of beds, infrastructure is ageing, etc.

Heideveld Day Hospital sees patients queuing from 4am, nurses at Hanover Park Day Hospital are at risk from gang warfare on hospital premises ... the list goes on.

What are the costs of these crises to society?

Workers avoid medical treatment until it is too late because they cannot afford the exorbitant prices charged by the medical and pharmaceutical industries.

Families are left with breadwinners no longer able to work or who have passed away. Company productivity is disrupted due to high absenteeism as workers are too ill to work.

The fiscus is left bleeding from a less productive economy and treating illnesses that could have been identified, prevented, cured or managed through primary healthcare.

South Africa is a major industrial economy, yet Cape Town is the worlds tuberculosis capital. We have witnessed a massive rise in diabetes, obesity among many others. We will not overcome these until we overhaul our health care and ensure an equitable and rational distribution of resources.

What is the National Health Insurance?

Its not as is hyped up in election baiting TikTok videos by the DA, the end of democracy or life as we know it!

It combines the best elements of universal healthcare built over many years with great success in Canada, Sweden and Norway, among others.

Hardly the stuff that should give the DA voters in Constantia a heart attack! But perhaps it may offend the profit margins of the CEOs of medical companies whose generosity the DA depends upon.

The core elements of the NHI are:

Universal health care through a single National Health Insurance that all South Africans would be members of.

Primary health care to ensure all South Africans have access to medical practitioners so diseases and illnesses are routinely screened for, identified, managed and cured. This avoids a scenario where for example cancer goes undetected until it is too late and costly to treat.

The NHI would be funded by existing public health care expenditure, phasing out medical aid tax rebates and existing money going towards medical aid. So no new costs to workers pockets (again take DA electioneering with a bucket of salt).

The NHI will direct patients to go to the nearest available health-care provider, including private hospitals and private practioners who would be refunded by the NHI.

Medical tariffs will be capped by a panel of medical experts to balance the need for the private sector to make money with the constitutional right to life of all South Africans, including the pensioner with TB in Manenberg and the expectant mother in Khayelitsha.

This model has worked across Europe. It is b