SA withdraws order to charge foreigners full rate
Publish date: 11 March 2019
Issue Number: 814
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
SA's national Health Department has withdrawn its instruction to provinces to charge foreign patients the maximum rate, saying the directive should never have been issued, notes a Business Day report. Provincial 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. The Health Department’s deputy DG for National Health Insurance, Anban Pillay, said the letter sent to the provincial departments was drawn up by a junior official who did not have the authority to introduce changes. It was rescinded on Saturday after the Western Cape Health Department and journalists started asking questions, he said. Pillay said the silence of current regulations for the schedule on nationality had created confusion about rates foreigners should pay. The national Health Department was drafting regulations to clarify the situation and spell out that all patients using state health care facilities should be charged according to a means test, regardless of their nationality, he said.