FMF condemns HSPCA's call for NHI's seizure of medical scheme funds

Foundation says these belong to members, and taking them would be unlawful

Free Market Foundation condemns plans for expropriation of medical aids

21 May 2021

Johannesburg – The Free Market Foundation (FMF) opposes, in the strongest possible terms, recent calls by the Health Professions Council of South Africa that the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) should be the only funding mechanism for health in South Africa and that the financial reserves currently held in medical schemes should in effect be expropriated for use within the NHI.

Reserves of medical schemes belong to their members, and taking possession of these would be unlawful seizure of private property. Is it the case that the proposed amendment of section 25 of the Constitution, to allow for expropriation without compensation, will apply not just to land but also to other property, such as medical scheme reserves.

FMF Deputy Director Chris Hattingh said, “The NHI will not deliver improved health outcomes for citizens; it will instead subject all healthcare services to the inefficient, increasingly centralised, stilted bureaucracy and corruption prevalent in the public sector, drive medical professionals out of the country, and stifle medical technological advances and innovation.”

The FMF recommends that, instead of nationalising the management of all healthcare in the hands of the state – as the NHI would do – the state should focus on improving the quality of public healthcare services, which the majority of citizens rely upon, and the recommendations of the Health Market Inquiry should be revisited and implemented for the private sector.

After decades of declining standards in the public sector – and a subsequent ballooning of the government’s medical malpractice liability to now in excess of R100 billion – it is deeply immoral to continue to subject the majority of citizens to these sub-standard levels of care.

Implementing the NHI will entail the establishment of yet another state-owned entity (SOE) – with no objective reason to believe it will deliver better services than the country’s other hollowed-out government-run enterprises. Billions have been poured into South African Airways and Eskom especially – with those billions being wasted, ultimately leaving poorer citizens suffering from sub-standard service delivery.

The NHI is precisely the opposite of the kind of radical structural reform that South Africa needs. New laws and regulations that increase the state’s control over the economy and private assets – and ultimately over people’s lives – will not attain the level of economic activity and growth that the country desperately needs. The FMF calls on all medical schemes and their members to publicly oppose the NHI, as it will not attain quality healthcare for all South Africans but instead wreak havoc within the well-established private sector.

The FMF will be hosting an event on the NHI, as well as possible alternatives, on 26 May.

The speakers are: Professor Alex van den Heever, Patrick Bracher, and FMF Health Policy Unit member Michael Settas.

You can watch the presentations, and participate in the discussion, live here: https://bit.ly/3f4p5I4

Issued by the FMF, 21 May 2021