Already bled to death

2009-08-03 00:00

I AM rich, according to the South African government, and must pay for other people’s health care. But I have been bled dry already and have nothing left to give.

I am quite willing to make a contribution to the running of society by a transparent and ­effective government. Don’t get me wrong. There’s no such thing as a free ride anywhere in the world. I also know that there are many millions of people who have less than I do. But in few other countries in the world would I be considered wealthy.

The thought of contributing more makes my eyes water, because I am already being bled dry.

I am a journalist, a profession not known for its extravagant salaries. I already pay 18% of my salary to the taxman, and 25% of any scrap of freelance work that comes my way. Then there’s VAT; whack goes another 14% of my income on any purchase I make. I have been a loyal taxpayer for 24 years.

I don’t know about you, but I spend my whole salary every month. In fact, the last few days of the month are usually rather challenging, to say the least.

And on to property taxes of almost R5000 per year. I bought the house 16 years ago and am still paying it off. Now I wouldn’t even qualify for a third of the bond on its market value. A ­sobering thought.

Every time I put petrol in my car I pay six different levies and taxes on every litre. My car is 14 years old, by the way.

Some food prices have gone up by 38%, electricity is not far behind and I avoid shopping centres unless I feel like a bout of shell shock.

My personal taxes fund the equivalent of almost four state pensions every month, but I have to pay for my own pension plan. Oh yes, and when I retire, I get taxed on it. And to add ­insult to injury, I don’t qualify for a state pension, because I have paid for my own. Funding my old age has become my problem.

I also pay almost R300 a month for armed response, ­because I suspect that any ­domestic crisis I might have will be shoved to the end of the queue by the overworked and understaffed Lansdowne police station 500metres away from my home. And that could leave me in a pretty dire situation. Funding my security has become my problem.

I have two domestic workers a week. The one just helped me out for a month when the other was on leave, and I kept her on. I so don’t need both of them, but they really do need me. It’s a question of survival for both of them. Would you be able to choose between them when times get tough? They’re both single mothers and have three children each. I just cannot find it in myself to give either of them the boot.

I have paid UIF for 25 years and never claimed a cent. I have claimed small amounts from ­insurance three times in 20 years. I cannot do without insurance (almost R500 per month) as the crime rates are high, and driving around in a country where there are so many ­unlicensed drivers is a huge ­financial risk.

And now on to health care. My medical scheme costs me just under R2000 per month. Membership is a condition of my employment. I am also no longer a spring chicken and would not like to be left to the mercy of state health care. But it now looks as if I might have no choice if the National Health ­Insurance proposals can be ­believed. There will apparently be no opt-out option under the new system. I would have to make an extra contribution to the NHI.

It’s not that I begrudge anyone decent health care. On the ­contrary. It’s just that I am ­unable to pay for it, because I am already paying for everything else.

But whenever I get depressed about my finances, which is about every 20 minutes, I console myself with the fact that there is one organisation out there who thinks I am rolling in the cash: the South African ­government. I remain unconvinced.

— Health24

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