Free healthcare is a system where all citizens receive medical care at no cost or at a very minimal cost. Every South African deserves the best health care services, regardless of their gender, religion, economic status or tribe according to the constitution.
Despite plans by stakeholders in the health industry and the South African government to provide free health care in the country, it has not yet been fully implemented for various reasons. In June 2017, the cabinet gave an official statement that it was finalizing plans to provide free health care.
However, since then, the cabinet has not communicated any further information concerning free health care. Citizens of South Africa are still waiting for implementation of the system as majority of them cannot afford private health care due to their economic status.
South African Health Care System
South Africa’s health care system is a network of care facilities across the country that offer health care to citizens. These facilities range from rural clinics to huge academic hospitals located in urban centers.
There are more than 400 public facilities and over 200 private hospitals offering health care services in the country. The number of people receiving services from public and private health care sectors have indicated a great gap in economic status between the rich and the poor.
For instance, public health care facilities offer health care to about 80% of the population while the private health care facilities offer health care to the remaining 20% of South Africa’s population. This indicates that a large number of people still can’t afford private health care services.
Besides struggling to serve 80% of the population, public health care facilities have also faced challenges such as poor management, inadequate funding and poor infrastructure. These challenges have made it hard for people to access equitable, high-quality and affordable health care despite South Africa having universal health care.
On the other hand, private health care sector caters for high-income and middle-income earners who are members of various medical schemes.
What does the South African law State about health care services?
South African law states that certain health care services should be provided for free to all people. According to the National Health Act section 4(3), everyone has a right to be accorded these medical services at government clinics and hospitals for free.
The government of South Africa has taken some steps to ensure that there are quality and affordable health care services in the country. For example, it has introduced the National Health Insurance (NIH).
National Health Insurance
National Health Insurance is a financing system where the citizens contribute funds to ensure that even the poor can access quality medical services as dictated by universal health care system.
The main focus of South Africa’s health department is to improve the health system. To ensure this, the department has placed focus on public health and proper management of the institution.
In addition, the government intends to bring about reform that will improve service provision and delivery of health care services through the National Health Insurance.