Institutions dispute claims over NHI doctor exodus

Industry bodies are questioning the findings of reports implying a mass exodus of doctors from the country if the National Health Insurance bill is implemented. Courtesy of #DSTV403

JOHANNESBURG - Will there be an exodus of doctors due to the implementation of the NHI?

Media reports have suggested the country could face a massive shortage of healthcare practitioners.

Research conducted by the trade union Solidarity indicated over 80 percent of healthcare workers believe private doctors will emigrate if the NHI bill is implemented.

READ: The NHI will help everyone: Mkhize

The Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) said this is news to them.

Dr Rajesh Patel from the BHF said, "I've seen the headlines over the weekend regarding all the people that are leaving the country.

"BHF administers the practice code numbering system and as far as we're concerned and what we see, we don't see the rush of resignations."

The Independent Practitioners Association Foundation is also sceptical.

Dr Elijah Nkosi from the IPAF said, "we haven't had a situation where our members are saying look we're going to leave the country."

READ: SA Private Practitioners Forum raises concerns about NHI

Nicolien Welthagen from the Solidarity Research Institute said, "this is an opinion and a perception study. It's just an opinion of the doctors. I never asked directly are you going to leave'."

The underlying issue, according to the IPAF, is that specialists will no longer be able to charge their own rates.

Nkosi said, "you'll find that now if it's a PMB condition the doctor will charge 3 times, or 300 times more than the prescribed rate that the scheme has prescribed. But the medical scheme is forced to pay that higher rate"

If all goes according to plan, National Health Insurance will start being implemented in 2022 and be fully functional by 2026.