Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s big NHI blunder

Joe Phaahla

Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach said Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s claim that no significant private medical insurance exists in United Kingdom is false.

In the second reading debate on the National Health Insurance Bill in the National Assembly, Phaahla sang the praises of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

NHS is the conglomerate name for the publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom, comprising NHS England, NHS Scotland and NHS Wales.

The Minister said when the NHS was started in 1948, many doctors rejected it and mobilised against it.

“Today, it does not matter whether you have a Labour or Tory government. Even the extreme right-wing Tories know that with all its weaknesses, the NHS is the jewel which must be protected,” he said.

Phaahla told Parliament that “no significant private medical Insurance exists in the United Kingdom”.

“One of the big three private hospital groups making billions of profits here in South Africa could not survive in the UK,” he claimed.

He said this is because prices for private service providers there are determined by the NHS, not the market made from desperate sick people.

Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach sets the record straight

Ryan Noach
Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach

Noach told Biznews that the United Kingdom’s NHS is a brilliant public healthcare system – one of the best in the world.

Despite its positives, the NHS is facing its own challenges, including cutbacks and constraints, as with any national system.

Discovery runs a successful private medical insurer in the United Kingdom, Vitality Health Insurance, which is the third largest in the market.

“Pre-Covid, between 12% and 13% of the population in the United Kingdom had private medical insurance,” Noach said. “Today, it is 22%.”

Statista’s Consumer Insights confirmed Noach’s claims, saying 22% of UK adults now have private healthcare, which has nearly doubled since 2019.

The Guardian reported that a growing number of Britons are paying for private medical treatment in a shift that could undermine the NHS and create a two-tier health system.

Last year, Solidarity said that, in 2020, only about 17 out of every 100 South Africans had medical insurance. It means that the UK and South Africa have similar medical insurance levels.

Private healthcare and private medical insurance in the United Kingdom are clearly becoming increasingly popular.

It is a far cry from Phaahla’s claim that “no significant private medical insurance exists in the United Kingdom”.


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