National Health Insurance (NHI) is undoubtedly the most serious existential threat to the health of many South Africans, particularly those who have up to now been paying for their own healthcare, and in so doing saving the state a fortune. The protagonists of NHI seem to think that the resources used by the private healthcare sector actually belong to the state, and as such can be expropriated for use by the state. This is nothing other than brazen theft.

For those of us in the autumn of our lives, NHI presents a disastrous future. We who have contributed to medical aid for more than 50 years now find that we will be deprived of this resource at a time in our lives when we need it most. Many seniors have personal experience of the horrors of the public health service, including horrific queues, utter indifference, negligent care, no medicines and a shortage of doctors. The prospect of joining such queues in the hope of seeing a doctor one has never met in filthy and decrepit circumstances boggles the mind.

Given cadre deployment and the utter incompetence that results, it will take generations, if ever, to get the public health service up to standard. This is not due to lack of money but a “don’t care” attitude, indolence and a general lack of interest. Destroying what works in order to fix what doesn’t work is tantamount to lunacy. Reducing all services to the lowest common denominator does not ensure good quality healthcare for all. Fixing the existing public health system must be prioritised before any NHI scheme can be implemented.

Peter Miller