81% of households that use public healthcare 'satisfied' - Stats SA

2018-06-22 15:46
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. (File, Beeld)

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. (File, Beeld)

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Statistics South Africa says that 81% of households using public healthcare services in 2017 were either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with the provisions they receive at public facilities.

Stats SA held a press briefing in Pretoria on Thursday, following the completion of its general household survey (GHS) for 2017. It also tracked trends starting from 2002.

With regard to public healthcare in 2017, chief director of social statistics Dr Isabelle Schmidt said that less than 17% of the population had medical aid cover.

Of those, only the two "wealthier provinces" of Gauteng and Western Cape were above the 16.9% national average, with 25% and 24.8% private cover respectively.

The Northern Cape (16.3%), North West (15.5%), Free State (14.9%), Mpumalanga (13.9%), KwaZulu-Natal (12.6%), Eastern Cape (9.9%) and Limpopo (8.3%) were all below the national average.

The vast majority of those surveyed, however, were seemingly satisfied with their healthcare service – regardless of whether they used public or private facilities.

"The study found that 81.7% of households that attended public healthcare facilities were either very satisfied or satisfied with the service they received, compared to 97.3% of households that attended private healthcare facilities," Schmidt said.

Of the 81% national figure for public healthcare services, 55% were "very satisfied" and 27% were "somewhat satisfied".

By province, households in the Western Cape (19%), North West (18%), Free State (18%) and Northern Cape (14%) were more inclined to be dissatisfied with their level of public healthcare.

The levels of satisfaction were better than the national average in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo, the statistics showed.

Seven-out-of-10 use public facilities

Schmidt said the GHS report revealed that about 71.2% of households reported that they made use of public clinics, hospitals or other public institutions as their first point of access when household members fell ill or got injured.

"By comparison, 27.4% of households indicated that they would go to private doctors, private clinics or hospitals."

Nearly a quarter (23.3%) of SA households had at least one member who belonged to a medical scheme.

The sample used was 21 225 households and 72 291 individuals.

The GHS also utilised face-to-face interviews of household heads or, alternatively, citizens who were 16 years old or older.

News24 asked Schmidt if the figures were in line with past years and if they varied over time.

'Stable patterns'

With regards to medical aid coverage, they had seen "a relatively stable pattern over time that around 17% of the population has medical aid. This goes up and down only slightly annually between 16% and 17%", Schmidt said.

The same applied to the "general satisfaction" question, where 81% of households were satisfied with public healthcare and 97% satisfied with private healthcare.

"We've seen very similar patterns. It fluctuates from year to year, but only ranging between 0.5% and 1%.

"I don't think access to private facilities has expanded in any way."


Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi – who had unveiled his plans for universal healthcare on the same day – said the 81% satisfaction results were "confusing".

He said it was strange that there was general unhappiness with the quality of public healthcare, yet the survey suggested 81% of households were satisfied. "It is confusing... But that is their stats, Stats SA."

When asked if his department had canvassed public sentiment over his plans to overhaul the healthcare services, Motsoaledi said they had their own set of stats compiled by the Human Sciences Research Council, dating back to 2009.

He, however, did not have those on hand to share with the media.

'Rich, young, healthy will subsidise poor, old, sick'

Motsoaledi on Thursday announced his department's plans to introduce a universal, mandatory National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund that would change the way healthcare is funded in the country.

READ: 'The rich will subsidise the poor' – NHI according to Motsoaledi

Motsoaledi presented two bills to the media on Thursday that would lead to massive changes in the way public health and medical aid cover are handled: the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and the Medical Aid Schemes Amendment Bill.

The minister said that the essence of the NHI was that the "rich will subsidise the poor, the young will subsidise the old, and the healthy must subsidise the sick".

"Currently, it's the opposite. At present, the poor subsidise the rich, and we will attempt to show that."

Only 10% of South Africans could afford private healthcare, he said.

Citizens, civil society and the private sector have three months in which to comment on the new bills, which can be found HERE.

Read more on:    stats sa  |  aaron motsoaledi  |  health  |  service delivery

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