Stampede for personal wealth clouds political minds

2010-11-13 14:26

The cost of health care is a great concern for most people. A few years ago, the introduction of the Health Care Act was praised as legislation that was going to make medical aid affordable to all.

Contrary to that objective, the government continues to discuss, and plot, as though in collusion with pharmaceutical companies, systems and methods that will only enrich the already wealthy corporations.

Recent reports say pharmacies will be able to collect higher levies – which are already high.

It was not long after the introduction of the new Medical Aids Act that another piece of legislation was introduced that forbade family doctors in poor areas from dispensing medicine. I don’t understand how anyone could fail to recognise that it is these doctors that are keeping the very poor healthy.

The health ministry seems to be missing the point. The Medical Schemes Act of 2001 was introduced to encourage membership to medical-aid schemes.

We need to be honest and acknowledge that owing to the low salaries that ­workers are paid they cannot afford ­medical aid.

It altogether does not make sense that as workers are fighting for better salaries, the powers that be introduce these new levies and expenses that will erode the 6% or so that workers gained after going on strike.

New generation medical-aid schemes require members to contribute towards a savings facility, which is to pay for prescribed medication and consultation fees.

Depending on the size of the family, their medical needs and what the savings amount to, the coffers could be knocked empty by one event, and the family would have to find cash to pay thereafter.

South Africans are poor savers, therefore in the absence of cash, the only option left are the public-health facilities.

Again we have to look at our government’s free-health policy. It is so easy to offer free services when you will not be dispensing any free medicine.

That there is corruption and that ­invoices are paid without any delivery ­being made, or medicine diverted by some crooks for personal enrichment are not in dispute.

The worry is that there are too many policies and legislation that are not aligned.

The beautiful idea of Folateng private health care in public hospitals will fail because of medicine costs that will exhaust patients’ medical aids.

The only alternative is to improve public heath-care facilities, something which the government is failing to do because projected building costs magically double and contractors simply walk away for all kinds of reasons – Jabulani Hospital is a case in point.

The truth is if you lose focus on your objective and allow side issues to cloud your sight, you will miss your target.
There is a big lesson to be learnt from lions.

It matters not how many members of the pride are there, once a prey has been identified, all the lions will chase that ­single animal that has been marked for the kill. They never allow the stampede to ­distract them.

Yet with government officials, the scramble for personal wealth, coupled with the fact that policy makers are ­concerned about their post-political life, ­affects how they do business with the ­private sector.

Our elected custodians simply forget their campaign promises and just enjoy the easy life that comes with the job.

» Diale is a financial planner. He can be contacted on 078 775 0802

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