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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Equal Healthcare for All?

Private healthcare versus public healthcare is not just a question for the United States. It is a question that is facing many nations today. Which form of healthcare is the best is debatable, but most people have their opinions on either side. Is it possible for there to be a combination of both forms of healthcare, or by using one form are we automatically locked out of the other? The issue of healthcare is at the forefront of discussions in South Africa presently and probably will not be resolved any time in the really near future.

The Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is trying to incorporate both private healthcare and public healthcare into their society and trying to do so in what she believes is the most effective way.

“The system currently requires that medicines manufacturers charge extremely low prices to the public sector and compensate for this by loading the prices they charge to the private sector. This uncompetitive practice must be eliminated, and medicines should be marked at the same price wherever they are sold. However, patients should be able to claim rebates on the cost of these drugs according to the income-based formulas that already apply to public hospital admissions, whereby the poorest patients receive free services, and fees are charged at progressively higher rates according to income.”

By eliminating some of the costs of healthcare and medicines onto those who make a higher income, Tshabalala-Msimang looks to be trying to level out the gap between the richest and the poorest people in South Africa. I would only wonder though that if by making those with a greater income pay more she might be inadvertently creating a black market for the rich whereby those same medicines can be accessed at a lower price. (Most people will probably just pay the more expensive prices.)

Public sector hospitals are often less efficient and more crowded than private hospitals, but Tshabalala-Msimang would like to change that as well by making private hospitals more accessible. Hopefully in making private hospitals more accessible they will not lose some of the better care and shorter waiting times that the private hospitals are able to give to their patients that are willing to pay a higher price. Healthcare should be available for all people, but it is not necessarily a right that everyone receives the same level care in the same amount of time.

Source: http://www.int.iol.co.za/general/news/newsprint.php?art_id=vn20080511090

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