Solidarity slams government’s ‘irrational, irresponsible’ health insurance plan

Dirk Hermann, CEO of Solidarity trade union, is seen during a press briefing held in Centurion where they revealed the Denel Dossier, 19 April 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Government wants to achieve an ideological victory even at the expense of South African lives, the union says.

Government clearly wants to achieve an ideological victory even if it is at the expense of South African lives, trade union Solidarity said while condemning the adoption of the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) plan by the Cabinet this week.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s comments that the time for discussions, analysis, and diagnosis was over and that implementation of the NHI should go ahead was irresponsible and the NHI was heading for disaster, Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) senior researcher Morné Malan said in a statement.

“I can understand why the minister would want us to stop analysing, because every economic analysis, every failed pilot project and discussion only reveal more shortcomings that would hamper the system, and are further indications that the NHI simply is not viable,” he said.

The NHI was not merely an inadequate step in the right direction. On the contrary, it actually represented a drastic and very real step in the wrong direction. “The status quo can be improved upon, but even the current state of affairs would be more desirable to most South Africans than to monopolise health in the hands of the state,” Malan said.

“Solidarity wants to state its scepticism about the amended version of the bill, and it doubts government’s willingness to confess to any of the extremely detrimental aspects of the initial bill.

“Looking at the feedback coming from all quarters, spanning the Treasury, the business sector at large (such as banks, insurance companies, Chamber of Commerce, mining houses, auditing firms and even including medical aid schemes and administrators), the pharmaceutical industry, private hospital groups as well as organised labour and from various think tanks, among so many others, then one cannot but reach the conclusion that a total revision or a rejection of the proposal is called for.

“There is virtually no chance that this version would offer a significant improvement. We also see it in government’s unwillingness to engage with reasonable analysis and its pressing on with the bill, regardless of the consequences for ordinary South Africans,” Malan said.