The publication of the “Demarcation Regulations” by the Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, and the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, finally gives effect to the deeply misguided decision to phase out private health insurance for low income households.
This poorly conceived decision demonstrates just how ideologically constrained the Ministers have become when it comes to ensuring that poor South Africans have access to quality health care across the country.
The DA will not let this happen without a fight. To this end, we will request that a full regulatory impact assessment be conducted as a matter of urgency, and that the results of this study be made public.
South Africans, especially those who will now be prevented from accessing the private sector, deserve to know what the impact of this decision will be on their lives.
Regulating the relationship between medical aid and health insurance products is not necessarily a bad thing, but the sting in the tail is the phasing out of the primary healthcare insurance policies, which insurance firms are now prohibited from providing.
This is high-handed, peremptory and likely unconstitutional, for it inhibits the right of every citizen to choose and practice their trade freely.
The likely reason for banning this private option for poor South Africans is because the government is clearing the competition for its own state health monopoly, the National Health Insurance (NHI).
If government is genuinely interested in providing more and more South Africans with health coverage, they should support the expansion of the private health insurance sector. More and more citizens are taking it up because it works for them.
In the DA’s Our Health Plan (OHP), this is precisely our proposal: by providing a universal subsidy for every citizen and legal resident (including refugees).
The DA looks forward to the publication of the RIA as soon as possible. The thousands of poor South Africans who have chosen private healthcare deserve to know.