Doctor Source: Google Images

The ANC’s much-maligned National Health Insurance (NHI) bill was tabled this week, to a fanfare of criticism and disdain. The government says it will provide affordable healthcare to all South Africans, but those across from them in the benches of Parliament – and multiple experts – remain unconvinced that any good can come from these proposals.

Why doctors want to leave South Africa

Once up and running, NHI would likely serve as another state-owned entity in South Africa. Taxpayers, quite frankly, can’t afford another mouth to feed. Despite promising to provide universal services across the country, there are certainly a few flaws up for discussion.

As Chris Archer, CEO of the South African Private Practitioners Forum, told the Sunday Times: “Those [in the industry] who want to leave see NHI as a reason to do so”. He cites fears regarding higher taxes and limitations imposed on certain medical aid schemes as reasons why doctors are now considering leaving the country.

Survey shows huge disapproval of NHI

This is no thumb-suck prediction, either. Research by the trade union group Solidarity – published just a few weeks ago – confirms that the mood is gloomy amongst medical professionals. Their most recent survey of workers across a broad spectrum of the industry reveals just how bad the situation could get in Mzansi.

  • 43% of health care workers would consider leaving South Africa if the government continues to implement the NHI scheme
  • 83% are convinced that the scheme will eventually cause professionals like doctors, specialists and other health professionals to leave the country.
  • In training programmes, the government are favouring “foreign student doctors” over their South Africa equivalents.

Political opposition to NHI bill

Siviwe Gwarube is the DA’s Shadow Minister of Health. She has lambasted the NHI bill for having so many fundamental flaws. It is her belief that a nationalised health system will create a new wave of state capture, allowing corrupt officials to loot from the system. Gwarube also expressed fears about what will happen to private healthcare providers:

“This fund will be nothing more than another SOE that will be completely vulnerable to grand corruption. It will mean the equitable share of funds to provincial departments is reduced to finance the Fund and will undeniably mean poorer health outcomes for ordinary South Africans.”

“As unemployment continues to reach crisis levels, more and more people are battling to sustain a living in South Africa. This additional tax burden is avoidable under a different financing model. The National Department of Health will become the sole provider of healthcare in the country, while all private healthcare providers will be contracted by the state.”