Docs oppose self-funding idea

2002-10-11 13:15

Johannesburg - South Africa's largest doctor network has criticised as irresponsible a Cape-based doctor network's recommendation that medical aid scheme members insure themselves only for hospital cover and self-fund all day-to-day and specialist expenses.

Cape Primary Care, which represents 700 Cape doctors, put forward this proposal on the grounds that it would save money for the majority of medical aid scheme members who did not have chronic conditions that needed regular medical attention and who visited health professionals infrequently.

But GPNet opposes the idea, saying that because most South Africans are poor savers, they might not have the cash on hand to self-fund visits to doctors, opticians, specialists and other healthcare professionals if it suddenly becomes necessary.

This could lead to health needs being neglected or to the cost being shifted to the state.

GPNet chief executive Hennie Duvenhage said in a statement on Thursday: "GPNet, South Africa's largest doctor network believes that this (the proposal) is irresponsible and encourages patients to fund for primary healthcare."

SA one of world's worst savers

"It presupposes that South Africans are good savers and will have the cash available when they need to see a general practitioner, specialist, fill a script or have extensive tests done."

Quoting the South African Savings Institute - a non-profit organisation seeking to tackle the dire savings levels and spiralling household debt in the country - he said South Africa had one of the worst savings rates in the world.

This was significant because if a patient became ill and was unable to visit a doctor or specialist in private practice, the burden then fell on the state which already was unable to cope with the demand for services," said Duvenhage.