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'NHI to solve medical aid woes'

2009-08-18 16:02

Johannesburg - The proposed National Health Insurance scheme (NHI) will help resolve problems faced by medical aid members who were not getting value for their money, the ANC said on Tuesday.

"The ANC shares the view that the medical aid industry has consistently failed to control the cost of healthcare and has been unable to address efficiencies and equity in the private sector," spokesperson Jessie Duarte said in a statement.

"Only through the NHI, will we overcome the present inequitable and fragmented two-tier healthcare system, by pooling healthcare funds into a single one," she said.

Rates exceed inflation

She said the economic recession also hit medical aid members hard as increasing rates far exceeded the inflation rate.

"Premiums or contributions can cost a medical aid member between R12 000 and R80 000 per year, while the health benefits deriving from such high contributions are being cut or exhausted before the end of the year," Duarte said.

Most medical aid members were under-insured and had to face huge upfront payment expenses at times they needed their medical aids most, she said.

Money used for marketing

Duarte also said that instead of using money paid by members for healthcare, it is used for administrative purposes such as marketing.

Duarte said more than R13bn was used in this manner in 2007 alone.

"The key lasting solution lies not only in addressing the needs of the 40 million uninsured, but also the millions who are currently insured or underinsured by the medical schemes.

"It is precisely the current problems associated with the medical schemes that the ANC has embarked on a policy process to ensure that South Africa re-organise the manner in which healthcare is financed, by introducing the NHI," said Duarte.