11 November 2015
I am encouraged by how much external input we are getting into what will become our own national health service.The latest visitors to the Portfolio of Health were a high level delegation from Czech Republic.
The Deputy Speaker of the Czech Chambers of Parliament introduced his delegation, which was comprised of members from the Department of Health, the Chambers of Parliament, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
The experiences shared and information exchanged were fascinating. They detailed their own health care issues, ranging from the effect of an influx of immigrants on the domestic health system, to the functioning of the Czech Republic’s national health care insurance.
The Czech delegation was asked how their country dealt with the diseases they were not used to handling, which were brought in by immigrants. Were illegal immigrants with uncommon illnesses sent back to their countries or were they treated and accommodated in the Czech Republic? How did they deal with globally threatening sicknesses like Ebola?
The Czech delegation explained that there was compulsory health care insurance in the country, meaning that every citizen had to be insured or the insurance had to be paid for him or her. The responsibility for financing health care insurance went to the health care insurance companies, so it did not matter if the patient went to a state hospital or a private hospital. With 10 million citizens, there were about four million who were economically active, meaning that they could afford to pay for health care insurance, which comprised 12 percent of their income. For the remaining six million, the health insurance was paid by the state. The six million was made up of minors, pensioners and unemployed people, and for those citizens the state paid about R400 per person. There were seven insurance companies which collected the financial means from the state, and also from the economically active citizens.
Sadly the meeting was disrupted by the protest that was taking place in Parliament at the time. It was adjourned when the protesting workers insisted that the Members and everyone at the meeting should vacate the venue.