Are foreigners really entitled to free healthcare in South Africa?

Screen Shot 2019-03-06 at 23.53.47Directives recently issued by the national and Gauteng health departments requiring foreign nationals to pay in full for healthcare at public facilities weren’t only a threat to public health, they may have been downright illegal.

Walk into a public hospital, and you may be asked to fill out a form stating just how much you earn. That’s because many services in the public sector are billed for on a sliding scale based on a means test: You pay what you can for the treatment you need. At least in theory.

In mid-January, a national health department circular reportedly instructed clinics and hospitals to begin billing foreign nationals the full rate for public health services. Low-income refugees, the memo said, would be the sole exception and would be means tested, Business Day reported.

Only Gauteng passed these instructions onto its clinics and hospitals, specifying that all non-South Africans other than documented refugees should be charged full fees for all services including emergency treatment, maternity care and “basic health services”. The national health department has now said that the circular should have never gone out. ….more

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