EFF rejects NHI Bill

Fighters say this seeks to enrich the privately owned healthcare sector at expense of our people

EFF rejects the National Health Insurance Bill presented to the Portfolio Committee for Health

18 May 2022

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) true to its cause for prioritising equitable healthcare, unreservedly rejects the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill that has been presented to the Portfolio Committee on Health, under the guise of achieving universal healthcare coverage.

The Bill in its current form has no appreciation of the separation of quality between the public and private healthcare sectors, and primarily seeks to enrich the privately owned healthcare sector at the expense of our people.

The NHI Bill, contrary to popular belief and how the country is being misled by the ANC government, is a disingenuous attempt at dealing with our collapsed healthcare system. The Bill in its current form will not resolve the crisis of infrastructure in public facilities in rural and township areas.

Over and above this, it will merely open the gates of private hospitals at a high cost, tangibly meaning that the government of the day intends to outsource its duty to provide healthcare, to the private sector.

This will result in permanent access by the private sector into the coffers contributed to by our people and no evident transformation of the healthcare system to the benefit of the poor. Our people in rural, informal settlements and township areas will still be exposed to the current rot of public healthcare facilities as with the NHI referral system stipulated in the Bill, one has to go to the nearest healthcare facility for medical intervention.

This effectively means the NHI stands to benefit only those in cosmopolitan areas, people who already afford their own healthcare through medical aids, whilst the poor continue utilising the debilitated facilities in redundant and abandoned areas.

Moreover, persons living in the remote parts of rural provinces, with little presence of private healthcare facilities, will still be required to travel for hours on end to access a healthcare facility that is capacitated enough. The NHI is not for the poor, it is for the rich and for those in cosmopolitan areas and for those who acquire profit in the private sector.

A healthcare system that depends on the private sector to make decisions of integrity when it pertains to money and health is doomed from the start. Persons who utilise private healthcare have heaps of evidence to prove that the priority in these institutions is profit and not healthcare. In the current form, the private sector spends about R250 billion to cater for the needs of 10% of the population, equal to the amount of money spent on the public sector on 80% of population.

The NHI fails to outline the possibilities of pooling adequate funds for this purpose as what is currently spent will need to be exponentially increased to the benefit of the private sector and not achieving universal healthcare coverage — bearing in mind that the cost hardly centers the poor in rural, informal, and township areas, it is clearly not the right direction in rebuilding a demolished healthcare system.

The EFF supports the pooling of funds for the purpose of directing those funds into the betterment of infrastructure, attainment of medical equipment as maintenance, and sustenance of vital equipment remains a challenge to date in public facilities.

Lastly, the EFF supports the pooling of funds for the intention of ensuring that more hospitals and clinics are built that open and function for 24 hours and 7 days a week in rural areas, townships and informal settlements.

We unequivocally support primary healthcare, prevention and education as the basis for healthcare strategies, as these are pillars of any successful healthcare system, and Cuba is a perfect example of this.

However, the NHI does not offer the benefits of universal healthcare coverage for the poor and is in fact an extension to accessing the funds meant to cater for our health needs to the pockets of private owners of healthcare facilities, and for that reason the EFF rejects it in its current format.

Poor people who don't live in urban areas deserve quality healthcare as well!

Issued by Sinawo Thambo, National Spokesperson, EFF, 18 May 2022