Discovery must come clean on where it stands on South Africa’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

This is the gist of a letter the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has sent to Discovery CEO Adrian Gore.

In a statement, IRR Campaign Manager Mlondi Mdluli said: ‘For the longest time, Discovery has been in full support of the NHI Bill. In January 2022, Discovery Health made presentations to Parliament in support of NHI structural reform through a blended funding model and public-private partnerships. Additionally, last year, the organisation went as far as stating: ‘Discovery is supportive of the NHI and will use its capabilities and resources to assist.’ However, it now seems Discovery is beginning to change its stance on the NHI, even suggesting that it is unfeasible.’

The IRR notes that Discovery has recently flagged the implementation of NHI in its current form as the second-biggest risk facing the group. Additionally, the organisation said in its annual report last month that the contributions of healthcare professionals, who were core and essential to the delivery of care, were not given the appropriate weight and attention in the drafting of the Bill.

Added Mdluli: ‘The debate surrounding the NHI Bill is of interest to the IRR, as it has been very vocal in arguing against it from the word go. The IRR opposes the NHI not only because of its unaffordability, but also because, by nationalising private hospitals, it will infringe on the rights of South Africans to choose to obtain private healthcare. Discovery’s latest interesting comments have garnered our attention.’

This had prompted the IRR’s letter requesting Discovery to clarify the reason for its sudden change in stance on the NHI. The IRR also asked Discovery if it would be approaching the courts to prevent the implementation of NHI.

Concluded Mdluli: ‘The IRR remains firm in opposing the NHI and will continue to emphasise that the government should rather focus on fixing what is broken instead of breaking what works. The NHI will not solve the problems faced by the country’s healthcare system, but only lead to further deterioration.’

[Image: 2019 from Pixabay]