'State attacking private healthcare'
The government is seeking to replace private healthcare with National Health Insurance (NHI), the health policy unit of the Free Market Foundation said.
"The government is slowly but surely aiming to destroy private healthcare [and] lay the foundation for NHI," the unit's executive director Jason Urbach said in Johannesburg.
He said the Treasury's announcement in March to restrict the availability of "gap" cover medical insurance and hospital income plans was a systemic attack on private healthcare.
"If they are adopted in the current form... they will take us down the road of socialised healthcare."
Urbach believed the NHI was not particularly good use of scarce resources.
Government legislation such as the 1998 Medical Schemes Act (MSA) had not proven effective in increasing healthcare cover in South Africa.
"The proportions of South Africans covered by medical schemes remains static."
He described the government's behaviour as schizophrenic, since legislation like the MSA had caused the price of contributions to rise.
The MSA introduced four major changes within in the industry: open enrolment, community rating, statutory solvency requirements, and prescribed minimum benefits.
Urbach said each change increased the cost of contributions for medical scheme members.
An alternative was to allow exemptions for the lower-income market. He said "gap" insurance came as a result of government restrictions. Individuals should, as far as possible, be responsible for their own lives.