The national health department has withdrawn its instruction to provinces to charge foreign patients the maximum rate, saying the directive should never have been issued. Provincial health departments received a letter from the department in mid-January instructing them to ensure all non-South African patients pay the full rate for services. The only exception would be refugees with valid documents, who would get discounted fees if they had low income. Government hospitals and clinics charge patients according to the uniform patient fee schedule, which has different rates depending on a patient’s income, but makes no distinction between SA citizens and foreigners. Patients from the poorest households get free services, those on an annual household income of R70,000-R250,000 pay reduced fees, while those with an income of more than R250,000 pay in full. The health department’s deputy director-general for National Health Insurance (NHI), Anban Pillay, said the letter sent to the provi...

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