The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) says it is ‘heartened by what appears to be a deliberate halt in the ANC’s attempt to bulldoze the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme into law’, given the grave risks the proposed healthcare system poses.

The Institute says that ‘(this) fundamentally flawed policy initiative will nationalise private healthcare, unleash a government takeover of all healthcare spending, and initiate a new era of state capture and massive corruption’.

In a statement, the IRR head of strategic communications Hermann Pretorius says: ‘Any stalling of the reckless push by the ANC in government and Parliament to implement the NHI is encouraging. However, this is definitely not the end of the matter, nor the end of the IRR’s determined efforts to stop the NHI – the Eskom of healthcare that promises only to trigger life-shedding.

‘Advocates of the NHI have championed the scheme as the solution for everything from Covid-19 to the collapse of state-run healthcare. These advocates, like Dr Nicholas Crisp, are taking the people of South Africa for fools. The assumption that the state has the right to confiscate the after-tax money spent by individuals on their healthcare is perverse. Beyond this, it is pure fiction that the NHI could compensate for the failures of government-run healthcare services across the country.

‘On the question of the cost of the NHI, government has been as clear as mud. At the lower end of the spectrum, the NHI’s annual cost has been placed at around R200 billion. At the higher end – bearing in mind that this government hardly has a reputation for spending prudence and efficiency – estimates put the NHI’s fiscal burden closer to R700 billion. Yet the government has been unable simply to spell out what the NHI will actually cost.’

Pretorius concludes: ‘Worsening what is already a catastrophe in the making, the NHI might have been designed to cater to the corrupt cadres and cronies that infest the patronage network of the ANC. It is difficult to see in the NHI anything other than a kleptocratic fantasy to grab yet more money from South Africans and strangle in the crib the ambitions of the millions of people in this country who are desperate to evade the mortal risks now routinely associated with too many public hospitals and clinics.’

The IRR says it ‘will ensure the time bought by this pause is not wasted and that the fundamental flaws of the NHI are exposed and understood’.

‘South Africans, with a democratic day of reckoning looming on the horizon, deserve to be told the truth about the NHI. More prevarication and platitudes won’t cure the ills of this disaster-in-the-making.’

The IRR notes that polling conducted in October and published last week ‘shows a substantial preference among all South African demographic groups for voucher-based policies in areas like healthcare. Such a policy would make tax-funded vouchers available to poorer South Africans to use in getting access to medical care of their choice’.

‘A healthcare voucher policy would empower millions; the NHI will cost billions.’

Read the latest IRR submission to Parliament on the NHI here:

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay