Black medics' ill-treatment must end

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi chaired a panel that has found there was widespread and consistent racial bias in the outcome of the medical aid's probes.
Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi chaired a panel that has found there was widespread and consistent racial bias in the outcome of the medical aid's probes.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

Early this year, gatvol black medical doctors spoke in unison to voice their frustration against SA's dominant medical aid companies whom they accused of racial bias.

The doctors accused medical aid giants like Discovery, Medscheme and Government Employees Medical Scheme of racial discrimination.

They alleged the companies withheld funds whenever doctors filed claims after consultations with patients. In many respects, the black doctors were right to wage this fight, which we strongly believe is long overdue.

They were demanding to be treated the same as their white colleagues.

Like many professionals, the black doctors have bills to pay and cannot be expected to work for free while their white counterparts receive their dues soon after they claim from medical aids.

In addition, the treatment medical aid companies were dishing out to black doctors is inappropriate, especially when considering that the practitioners usually offer their services to communities where white doctors fear to operate.

There is a large number of black healthcare professionals who sacrifice a lot by operating in crime-infested townships and far-flung rural communities. However, when they have to claim from medical aids they are treated like criminals or fraudsters.

But this unfair treatment of black doctors and their ill-treatment led to the Council for Medical Schemes in July appointing a three-member panel - chaired by Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi - to look into the allegations against the medical aid companies.

The panel's member, Zaid Kimmie, as reported in Sowetan's sister publication Business Day yesterday, found there was widespread and consistent racial bias in the outcome of the medical aid's probes.

We don't condone fraud and we believe that there are state institutions created to deal with all sorts of criminal activities. However, it is not the duty of medical aids to assume the functions of the police, prosecutors and judges against black doctors.

South Africa needs legislative amendments to put an end to this conduct by the medical aid industry or else black doctors will have no option but to consider rendering their services in other countries, to the detriment of rural areas and townships.

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