NEWS & ANALYSIS

Who's afraid of transformation?

David Bullard says the opposition to the NHI may be wider and deeper than govt expects

OUT TO LUNCH

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You can always tell when the ANC bigwigs are getting a bit worried that there may not be enough money left to steal before the 2024 election. They trot out the race card.

Last week the President stated in parliament that those opposed to the ludicrously ill conceived NHI are “opposed to transformation”. Now, who on earth could possibly be opposed to transformation for such a worthy cause as supplying free health care for every citizen and every foreign migrant in the land?

Presumably those pesky white land thieves and selfish white monopoly capitalists who don’t want to take their place in an orderly queue when cancer comes knocking at their door.

Labeling opposition to NHI as being opposed to transformation is, of course, complete populist buffalo shit but, as we know full well, populist buffalo shit sells in a country where the majority of voters have been deliberately educated to be incapable of questioning or evaluating anything the government does on their behalf.

Informed opposition to NHI (as opposed to informed emotional opposition) makes it very clear that the country cannot afford it at the moment. It would certainly be a nice to have but bearing in mind the vast holes in significant parts of our economy it would be reckless to go ahead with NHI.

On a domestic level it would be like me rushing out to buy a 60 inch state of the art, high definition TV instead of spending money on a plumber when my toilet is blocked and overflowing.

Informed emotional opposition to the NHI points out that the ANC don’t have a particularly good track record of running anything in the country these past 25 years and the healthcare they are currently responsible for leaves much to be desired. So why would we trust them with a national healthcare scheme?

Then there’s the small matter of widespread corruption and the huge potential for large amounts of cash to find its way into politician’s bank accounts. In which case, no doubt, a judicial enquiry would be set up at a modest cost to the taxpayer of R130mln specifically to find that no healthcare money moved in unusual directions.

Judging by the inquiry into the arms deal that’s the way things seem to work here and since we don’t arrest or prosecute those who we already know to be thieves and fraudsters it seems probable that the rape of medical aid funds would go unpunished.

Finally, there’s the argument that, in a properly run society, people should be free to spend their after tax income in any legal manner they choose. If that happens to be frittering it away on medical insurance every month rather than buying a case of Lagavulin 16 year old and self medicating then so be it.

I used to regard my monthly medical aid contribution as a grudge purchase but I no longer did so when I was superbly treated in Milpark hospital for gunshot wounds back in 2007. As the big 70 birthday looms I am of the opinion that I will need more rather than less specialist medical care so I happily pay every month, whether I use it or not. The thought of having to go to a government run hospital if I am diagnosed with a serious illness in the future quite frankly scares the hell out of me.

After ascribing opposition to the NHI to those opposed to transformation the President goes on to demonstrate that he has just talked complete nonsense by quoting a couple of statistics. Apparently, R250bln is spent every year on private healthcare versus R220bln for the rest of the population. The beneficiaries of private health care (which costs the government nothing) make up 16% of the population. That’s 9 250 000 people Mr President - a number that far exceeds the entire white population in this country.

Bearing in mind that many white South Africans also cannot afford medical aid one must assume that the 9.25mln is made up of various race groups but the demographics of the country would tend to suggest that black South Africans may even make up the majority of that statistic.

Any black employee of a public company is almost certainly going to be on a medical aid scheme and I can’t believe independent black professionals like lawyers, doctors and accountants are prepared to take their chances with the state health system, particularly if they have children. So NHI is going to alienate a lot of economically productive voters Mr President.

Something else missing from the Presidential logic is this. If those 9,25mln who have opted to pay for their own medical care in addition to paying taxes for the medical care of others are forced to join the NHI scheme what do you think will happen to waiting times for healthcare?

Yes, I’ve read all the gobbledygook about how the government are going to hire more nurses and doctors and are going to contract those in the private healthcare sector into the NHI scheme. Has it perhaps occurred to you sir that they are in the private health sector because the idea of the government telling them how best to do their job doesn’t really appeal? Do you honestly think that healthcare specialists used to being reimbursed by well managed and properly funded medical aids want to swap that for remuneration by an already creaking public healthcare system?

Personally I would be very surprised. At the time of writing it was revealed that the SA government owes more than R7bln in unpaid bills to private sector businesses.

Hanging the label of “opposed to transformation” on anything is a tried and tested way for a dishonest and hopelessly inept government to create a narrative that all would have been well if it hadn’t been for dark, destructive forces.

The narrative, willingly reported by what is left of the main stream media, is that racist whites are to blame. Tell the people that the “white owned” private medical aids are withholding medicines from them and allowing their babies to die and you have then persuaded a large chunk of the population to hate those who are apparently the cause of all their misery.

Fortunately the number of those who stand to lose out with the enforcement of NHI is both significant and racially diverse so maybe this won’t be quite the pushover the ANC politburo are hoping for.

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