Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach said it is not feasible to wipe out South Africa’s private healthcare sector and nationalise it in a communist-like approach.
Noach made these comments during an interview with Biznews founder Alec Hogg regarding the recently passed National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.
He agrees with the government that the current healthcare situation in South Africa is inequitable and needs change.
Noach added that the NHI has strengths and that most of the National Health Insurance is good and can be worked with.
However, they are concerned about Section 33 of the Bill, which states that when the NHI is fully implemented, medical schemes will not be allowed to provide cover provided by the NHI.
He said preventing medical aid schemes from providing private healthcare to its members and nationalising the system can’t be done.
“It will cause a revolt among the current people whose healthcare spending will drop by over 70% per capita,” he said.
There is also no way to fund the NHI. “You cannot raise enough taxes for NHI. It is economically not feasible,” he said.
Apart from these glaring problems, Noach said introducing NHI and stopping medical aids from providing private healthcare is “just not smart”.
“There is such brilliant support from the private sector in this country. We have a national asset. The smartest way is to work with the private sector,” he said.
Government ignored constructive engagements
The Discovery Health CEO said they put constructive proposals on the table instead of tearing the NHI down.
He further revealed that there were 112 submissions to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health.
These submissions included tens of thousands of pages from health economists, civil society, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations.
Despite these valuable submissions, no changes of substance were made to the NHI Bill over four years.
He said he does not know why the government ignored the feedback from all the experts who shared their views.
“It is hard to explain that after so much engagement and consultation, not a single change of substance was made over four years,” he said.
“The only rational conclusion is that they had a model they believed in and were determined to push through.”
“We just beg that there will be some engagement and collaboration between the government and private sector.”