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Mass emigration of SA doctors a concern following NHI announcement

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A number of legal and medical experts have warned that the incoming National Health Insurance Bill could drive doctors to emigrate from the country in search of better working opportunities.

Among other amendments, the bill proposes price controls in the private sector, including a national price list which will severely punish those medical professionals who do not follow the prescribed pricing list.

Speaking to the Sunday Times,  director of healthcare at Werksmans Attorneys, Neil Kirby said that given the current scarcity of doctors, it would not be a good strategy to freeze out those who did not stick to NHI rates.

Norton Rose Fulbright director Michelle David added that doctors would not want to be told what to charge, especially as the largest purchaser of services (government), will also be able to set tariffs.

In addition to a number of legal cases that are now beginning to materialise, some analysts have also cautioned that the amendments could lead to a brain drain in the country.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Graham Anderson, principal officer of Profmed medical scheme, said that if doctors were forced to drastically change how much they will charge they would emigrate, and that emigration was the main cause of members leaving Profmed – which caters to people in the professions.

“Private healthcare is an essential service,” he said.

“If they are going to trash the private sector in order to get the public sector up and running, doctors are going to go. If the doctors emigrate then other professionals, who can afford to leave, will go because they want healthcare for their children.”


 

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