It is shocking to learn that only 16.8% of South Africans are able to afford medical aid. Following the announcement by Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, that co-payments would be abolished as part of the proposed changes of the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill, StatsSA published a report that revealed only a minor percentage have access to private health care.

Dr Isabelle Schmidt, Chief Director for Social Statistics, spoke on the findings of the General Households Survey (GHS) – which concluded that only highly urbanised provinces such as the Western Cape and Gauteng have higher access to medical aid schemes.

Between 2002 and 2017, the percentage of individuals covered by medical aid in South Africa increased from 15.9% to 16.9%.

In the Western Cape, 24.8% of individuals are able to afford medical aid cover and in Gauteng 25% are covered. During this time period, individuals who are covered by medical aid increased from 7.3-million to 9.5-million.

This graphs shows the percentage of individuals covered by medial aid in each province (Source: StatsSA)


Other data shows that public clinics are still the first point of contact for most South Africans with health issues. About 63.7% of the population making use of public clinics. Only 24.6% of the population make use of a private doctor.

The use of traditional healers has reached its highest point in 14 years. Just under 400,000 people use traditional healers as their primary healthcare provider.


Percentage of South Africans that make use of public vs private health care (Source: StatsSA)


Thursday saw the NHI Bill, as well as the Medical Scheme Amendment Bill, gazetted.

Motsoaledi said the Medical Schemes Bill was being amended to align with the National Health Insurance (NHI) white paper to achieve universal healthcare. The NHI is a health financing system that operates on pooled funds to provide access to all South Africans, irrespective of their socio-economic status.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.