4 November 1998

Medical Schemes Bill

The Medical Schemes Bill will have a significant impact on the country's health care industry. Many South Africans never had access to medical schemes because of the discriminatory policies and practices of the industry. The most obvious victims of the industry were the sick and elderly, the unemployed and poor. The ANC Minister of Health received wide spread acknowledgement for her commitment to provide unlimited access to medical schemes to all South Africans. The Bill cancels all previous legislation and is guided by the Government's commitment to widening access to health care.

The Present System is Unfair

Because the current system discriminates against the sick and elderly there is a need to:

Creating a Fair and Just System

The main intention of the Bill is to create a just and fair health system. It does this by:

Improving on the Management of Medical Schemes

The Bill introduces a number of ways to improve the governance of schemes and to ensure that members and consumers are adequately protected.

A Council for Medical Schemes is established by the Bill to:

The Bill sets minimum standards for corporate governance and the monitoring of the industry by the Council. Ordinary members of medical schemes will now have the assurance that their money is being properly invested and managed.

The Minister will appoint a Registrar of Medical Schemes who will:

Consequences of the Bill

The Bill will:

Cross-subsidisation

This means all medical schemes will have community rated contributions. There will also be open enrollment so medical schemes will take full responsibility of keeping their members in the health care system.

A minimum benefits package must be provided by medical schemes. People can buy larger benefits packages when they can afford to, but the minimum benefit package must be provided for by all medical schemes.

The Medical Schemes Bill makes provision for people to continue their membership to schemes after retirement age.

The Bill will begin to reconcile the public and private sectors and encourage them to act more harmoniously. It will begin to address some of the disparities that exist in the South African health care system.

Opposition to the Medical Schemes Bill

Those parties and organisations, which date back to the Apartheid era, that oppose this Bill, are not serious about the plight of poor people who have previously been treated as second class citizens poor people who were deliberately turned away from entering medical schemes, who now have a chance to belong to any open medical scheme.

Their opposition is no more than an attempt by people with vested interests to stop the process of fundamental transformation of the health sector.

The ANC Government is very clear that it will not turn away from transformation. It believes that health care is not a privilege, but a fundamental right. And it is committed to provide affordable, accessible and quality health care to all South Africans.

This Bill is another step to re-build the South African nation, establish a culture of respect for fundamental basic rights and transform all sectors of our society. It is proof once again that step by step the ANC is making South Africa a better place for all its citizens.