The National Health Initiative

National Health InitiativeIf you happen to be contributing to a medical aid scheme in South Africa, you will have enjoyed the tax rebate this generates. This is called the Medical Scheme Tax Credit (MTC). It is meant to subsidise and reduce our medical costs.

For instance, for two adults and two minor dependants, this amounts to R1 014 per month or R12 168 per annum. It makes a big difference. Also, since we are subsidised for the portion that falls under Section 6 (b), which protects us when medical costs not covered by your medical aid get out of control, the total refund could be considerably more.

As you can imagine, this totals a few billion Rand that gets refunded to tax-payers each year. The government has proposed that the subsidies be diverted to the Department of Health instead. Their argument is that the new national health plan will need a few billion rand to operate. Regardless of their reasoning, or attempts at justifying the proposed change, it means we are going to lose a tax benefit.

The National Health Initiative (NHI) is a necessity. We should be provided with better
health-care facilities. However, at present, the Department of Health isn’t operating
efficiently. Stripped ambulances are left standing on bricks in the Eastern Cape. Doctors
meant to start their National Service cannot be placed. Inexperienced doctors are allowed to perform operations outside their skill level. They even slip-up on basic tasks, such as ordering medication. Essentially, the proposed NHI will increase the Department’s responsibilities. How could it possibly cope when they are unable to achieve an adequate level of service delivery now?

Pravin Gordhan said: “We cannot get what we cannot afford”. Yet ministers are still
spending recklessly, seemingly confident that the tax-payers will subsidise their shortfalls.  The problem is that gangsterism and corruption push up the price of every large project. There is no real repercussion, and the free for all continues.

The NHI will cost a few hundred billion Rand, and wastage is likely to increase the price. A recipe for yet another South African lead balloon. Before anything is set in motion, we need to educate ourselves and apply pressure to our political parties. This is a scheme, which, in its current form, cannot be funded.

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