Private Health Sector Serves only 17 Percent of South Africans

In the new democratic era in South Africa, there has been improvement in the health sector. However there is a huge challenge to improve the health conditions of the nation as a whole. The government looks upon private health care as an insult and not an excellent blueprint.

Professor Yosuf Veriava, chairperson for the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS), said there were two separate and distinct components in South African healthcare. These were the public sector component and the private sector component.

Veriava said the public sector component served 83% of the population whilst the private sector component served only 17%. This was despite it having better resources than the public sector component.

Veriava claims that this mismatch in resources in the two sectors contributes to the poor health of South Africans.

New Healthcare Plans ahead

Private Health CareThe public and private health care systems are both involved in providing curative services. But unfortunately the provision of these curative services on its own cannot improve the health status of South Africans. Although curative services were extremely important, preventive interventions and primary healthcare need a lot of attention as well, he said.

A Central Beneficiary Registry

The acting chief executive and registrar of the Council for Medical Schemes says they will establish a central beneficiary registry. This contains records of all funded patients in South Africa. This would help the Department of Health to plan for an inclusive healthcare system for South Africans. The aim of this would be to have this beneficiary registry developed for the 2015/2016 financial year.

The CMS has 83 medical schemes registered with it with a combined total of over 8.8 million members in December 2014. This consisted of  3 921 232 main members and also 4 893 226 dependents. The CMS said that it supported the National Health Department developing an alternative mechanism that would determine private healthcare prices.

The Government is Failing to Offer Good Health Care

A large part of good growth in the private health care sector over the last few years comes from the government’s neglect in providing adequate health care to its people. South Africa is awaiting changes  to arise in the health care outlook of South Africa. And this includes the phasing in of the NHI (National Health Insurance).

The main issues under discussion are the basic package of the proposed NHI and how funding will take place in all the different provinces.  South Africa still has a world-class private healthcare system and it needs to do what it takes to ensure no damage to it. South Africa needs to focus on how the private sector can assist in achieving the objectives of improving the health of all South Africans.

Private health care and public health care need to work together

The public healthcare system in South Africa is large, fragmented and complicated. This sector is under reform. But in order to reform it, there must be more staff. That will take a financial budget. Almost 81.2 per cent of the population relies on public healthcare. Only about 17% rely on medical schemes.

To address some of the resource and service delivery issues in the public health care sector, there are now partnerships between the public and private healthcare. The whole of South Africa is waiting to see what progress is being made towards good quality healthcare for the entire rainbow nation.