SA‘s Department of Health has done an apparent U-turn on its plan to scrap medical aid schemes, saying they should work with the state when it rolls out National Health Insurance instead, reports Business Day. However, Health Minister Dr Aaaron Motsoaledi denies any ‘sell out’.

The NHI policy documents wanted all 80 or so medical aid schemes merged into one state-run fund. About eight million South Africans – or 17% of the population – have medical aid cover and use private hospitals and doctors.

Department director-general Precious Matsoso met leaders of the medical aid plan sector and asked that they work together to reform healthcare in South Africa.

“This is big news,” said Graham Anderson, principal officer of Profmed.

In a further Business Day report, Motsoaledi has moved to defend his position on NHI after Cosatu accused him of betraying voters by offering medical schemes a lifeline.

Cosatu accused the Department of Health of prioritising the needs of what it called ‘private health profiteers’ over those of poor people. “The Department of Health is betraying NHI by handing over the NHI to private hands, and is also betraying the voters who were promised a single-payer NHI in the 2014 (ANC) election manifesto,” it said. ….more