NEHAWU refutes claims that the NHI will cause job losses
13 February 2019
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] have been pioneers of the National Health Insurance [NHI]. The NHI will provide access to health care to everyone regardless of their socio economic status as the current two tier system has resulted to deeply entrenched inequalities. The article by the private health care sector on how the implementation of the NHI will result to job losses doesn’t come as a surprise as the NHI Bill is a threat to their business.
The private sector is making an argument that the three JSE listed hospitals contribute about R55.5bn to GDP a year and the implementation of the NHI will result to Job losses of about 99.600. One then needs to first understand how many people or citizens are benefiting from this private health care and its contribution to GDP.Private sector spends 4.4% of GDP on health which benefits only 16% of the population, while the public sector spends 4.1% of GDP on health care for the remaining 84% of the population. This abnormality cannot continue to be accepted. The marginalised is not benefiting from this private sector contribution. The subsidy that the private health sector receives from government through contracting is supposed to improve social welfare of the majority and currently it is not.
The argument of Job losses is from the fear of losing government support as this means increased cost to them. For the private sector, increased cost leads to the laying off of workers in order for them to save their profits. Private Public engagement is not denied, even the constitution also allows for private participation in economy. But its contribution should results to improved social welfare. The NHI Bill does make an indication on the private sector involvement in the NHI. There are services of the private sector that the state will still for the implementation of the NHI. In his SONA President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed that they have a funded national quality health improvement plan to improve every clinic and hospital that will be contracted by the NHI.
This infrastructure development means using the services of the private sector in building, improving and maintaining these clinics and hospitals. Technological developments, machines will also require the services of the private health care. The conclusion that the NHI will result to job losses in the private sector cannot be valid if government would still be using their services.
The NHI bill also addresses the problem of human resource shortage in the public health care for a successful implementation of the NHI. This means increased number of Nurses, Doctors and other health care workers. The job summit addressed the issue of retrenchment and the resolution was made that they won’t be any retrenchments. The absorption of the Community Health Care workers to form part of government employees is one of the human resource developments that has been achieved towards the implementation of the NHI.
The second argument is on price regulation, and they saying it will also result to job losses. Price regulation is meant to allow for direct economic intervention and manage affordability of health care and create competition. With this issue of price regulation the Private sector is concerned more about loss of profit or reduced profits and less concerned about job losses. Price regulation by government will mean the private sector will lose its power to control prices. The abnormal profits that the private sector has been making over the years is a result of lack of price regulation which led to the three big hospitals monopolising the market. Health care has become a commodity that can only be purchased by those who can afford it and this is against section 27 of the constitution which provides for the right to health care to everyone.
Issued by Khaya Xaba, Media Liaison Officer, NEHAWU, 13 February 2019