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Afrique du sud : Our health care is not for sale

D 26 mai 2012     H 05:28     A COSATU     C 0 messages

Until such time as a National Health Insurance (NHI) is fully implemented, millions of workers are currently on medical aid – the cost of which is becoming increasingly unaffordable. In the public and Local Government sectors alone approximately 1 million workers belong to medical schemes – the majority of whom belong to SAMWU and NEHAWU. The funding of these members is from public coffers and is serving to fatten the coffers of private sector health care provider’s, predominantly private hospitals and specialists.

The main reason for this is that the cost of private healthcare is completely unregulated on the supply side – driving up costs on medical aid premiums. Private healthcare providers can pretty much decide on what to charge, leaving patients at the mercy of what is billed and responsible for the balance of what medical aids pay.

Many workers die of preventable illness as a result of not being able to afford medical aid and care that is not accessible from the State. Should this situation prevail it would leave a devastating legacy for the implementation of NHI. NHI is viewed as a single purchaser – if the current laws on health cost prevail it would be very difficult to regulate the price of healthcare services in a future dispensation and we would again be forced to sit out lengthy court battles and settle for compromises on the cost and delivery of health services. The playing field therefore MUST BE LEVELLED NOW !!!

SAMWU, together with its medical aid scheme, SAMWUMED will be raising these issues at the COSATU mass action, scheduled for tomorrow.

Demands are as follows ;

- 1.The exemption of healthcare from the Competitions Act.
- 2.Demand that healthcare be REMOVED from the market and take up its legitimate place as a social need.
- 3.The regulation of healthcare costs and the immediate re-instatement of the National Reference Price List [NRPL] as an interim relief.
- 4.A Ministerial intervention into the interpretation of Regulation 8 of the Medical Schemes Act.
- 5.A Government Commission of Enquiry into the actions of the Registrar of Medical Schemes.

- •The South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) governs medical schemes within local government.
- •Currently five schemes, including SAMWUMED, are accredited to cater for local government employees.
- •The Scheme currently provides healthcare cover to more than 76 000 beneficiaries (principal members and dependants) and offers two benefit options that provide comprehensive day-to-day and hospitalisation packages.
- •With its initial membership predominantly from the City of Cape Town, SAMWUMED re-launched itself nationally in 2001 when the benefit offering was significantly improved and Scheme administration was enhanced.

For further comment contact : Nelisa Ngqulana, SAMWUMED Communications Officer, on 079 527 3880 or 021 697 9500.