This assault on freedom must be fought tooth and nail – in the courts and in principle
There are many uncertainties about the government's proposed national health insurance (NHI) system. Nobody knows how much it will cost. But some things are 99% certain. One is that the African National Congress (ANC) and its government are incapable of running such a system. Another is that it will be overloaded with bureaucrats, deployed cadres, and affirmative-action appointees. It will also be run in the interests of trade unions, not patients.
The question then is how to avoid this disaster.
The typical response of South African organisations to this kind of ANC initiative is to say "we agree with the principle, but not the detail". Last year, for example, the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists declared their "unequivocal" commitment to the "intentions" of the proposed system. The Council for Medical Schemes said NHI was "essential". The Board of Healthcare Funders said it supported progress "to accelerate efforts" for NHI implementation. Discovery Health said "we are supportive of the general approach taken".
Last week the Health Professions Council of South Africa said the reserves of private medical aid funds should be expropriated, something which the previous health minister also favoured. The Democratic Alliance says aspects of the bill will be "catastrophic", but it also favours "removing the medical aid tax benefit" and allowing medical aids to provide "top-up cover" only, key objectives of the ANC in its war against the medical aids.
The trouble with this kind of response is that you are fighting on the ANC's terrain. The mining industry made the mistake of doing this with its initial embrace of the mining charter. Sections of organised agriculture are currently making the same mistake in endorsing the supposed need for speedier land transfers. Business in general went along with all the ANC's racial preferencing legislation, the result of which is that ever more racial preferencing is being required, with stiffer penalties for non-compliance.