I would like to add my support for a National Health Insurance as a means of addressing the shocking state of our nation's healthcare. ('National health insurance is an overdue counter to medical aids', Cape Times, July 22, 2008). Everyone should be able to walk into a hospital or clinic and claim this right without becoming impoverished or remaining ill because treatment is too expensive or unavailable. I believe it is important that we as a society give meaning to our constitutional right to affordable and accessible quality healthcare.
A National Health Insurance proposal will bring us closer to realising the concepts of 'solidarity' and 'universality' in South Africa. The principal of a NHI system is to promote this solidarity by getting the wealthy to subsidize the poor, and the healthy to subsidize the sick.
The private healthcare sector in South Africa accounts for about 60% of the total healthcare spending while government, only about 38%, although it is responsible for the healthcare of more than 60% of the population. We certainly need more money to implement an NHI system but the real challenge is not a lack of resources, it is using existing resources more efficiently and equitably. The details of how the money for a NHI system is collected and pooled, the purchasing and delivery of quality healthcare should become open for public debate.
Our current healthcare policies benefit neither those in the private healthcare sector (who are paying higher and higher contributions for shrinking benefit packages) nor the poor (who rely on a depleted public system that is vastly under resourced). It's time for reform and it's time to prove how serious we are as a society about reducing the vast inequalities that are destroying our nation.
Advocacy Programme Manager