Medical aids slated for not knowing racial demographics of doctors

03 July 2019 - 16:57 By Nico Gous

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) hauled medical aids over the coals on Wednesday after they admitted they do not know the racial demographics of the healthcare practitioners on their networks.

"Understanding our historical context, South Africans were segregated along racial lines. If you want to transform the industry, you still have to ascertain how many people are benefiting from our network.

"How many practitioners? How many females? How many black, coloured, Indian people are there in our network?" SAHRC Gauteng manager Buang Jones inquired.

He was speaking during the commission's preliminary inquiry into alleged racial profiling of healthcare practitioners on Wednesday in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

This was after Discovery Health CEO Jonathan Broomberg said during their submissions to the SAHRC they have no demographic breakdown of the roughly 35,000 healthcare practitioners on their healthcare network.

"We don't know the race profile of practitioners. We literally do not know. We don't presume to look at a surname and decide that Mr Jones is black, white or coloured. We do not possess race information or gender information of our practitioners."

Broomberg said they could break down the numbers according to different types of doctors.

Jones said: "It's really disappointing that Discovery doesn't see this as important to have a demographic profile of healthcare practitioners who are part of their network so that as the commission we get to understand how many practitioners are benefiting from this network."

The SAHRC held a preliminary hearing in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, to investigate if it should launch a full inquiry into medical aid schemes. This follows claims that some black medical practitioners suspect that medical schemes are using coercion, unlawful investigations and other means to hold them ransom before they are paid out.

Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems) principal officer Dr Gunvant Goolab said during their testimony: "There is no race recorded on Gem's systems … We receive the information from the Board of Healthcare [Funders of SA]."

Medscheme CEO Anthony Pedersen said: "We do not have that information stored on that system."