Health department wants details of medical aid members to be stored in central government database
\n Katharine Child | 2017-01-23 18:08:43.0\n \n \n \n \n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n \n\n \n\n\n \n \n
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\n \n \n \n Medical equipment, a stethoscope and book.\n \n \n \n
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\n The Department of Health has asked medical aids to pass on the names and addresses of all their members for use in a central government database.\n
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The Democratic Alliance’s spokesman on health‚ Wilmot James‚ said this request was a breach of the Constitutional right to privacy and the government had no right to each member’s personal information.
The Council for Medical Schemes‚ which regulates medical aids‚ in July made a presentation explaining to schemes why it wanted this data. The Times has seen the presentation‚ which explains the data would help the government bill some medical aid members who currently use state hospitals and clinics for free.
The Department of Health also wants a single list of every patient in the country to be held on a central database as part of National Health Insurance‚ according to the presentation.
The Department of Health wants information on what medical aid option each person is on and what the relationship between the main member and their beneficiaries are. James said: “The state has no right to our personal information and the Council for Medical Schemes has no business in providing it. It cannot be that national government asks a national institution to break our own laws.”
The DA has said it knows at least some medical aids have refused to provide it‚ but others have passed it on to the council.
Werksmans Attorney Neil Kirby said the department of health may have trouble enforcing this request as it contradicted a provision in the Medical Schemes Act.
“Section 60(2) of the Medical Schemes Act‚ 1998 prohibits any person from disclosing information about the affairs of a medical scheme unless it is done in terms of his or her duties in terms of the Act or as a witness before a court.”
Spokesman for the Department of Health Joe Maila said: “Firstly‚ the registry is not to collect personal or private information as the DA claims‚ but to ensure that the public sector is able to identify medical scheme members so that their scheme can be billed for services rendered in the public sector. “
He said the information such as which options members are choosing and the ages and geographic distrubution of members was solely for research purposes and would be anonymised.
Maila hit back at medical schemes that wouldn’t provide the data.
“We are aware that some schemes do not want this information to be available neither to the department or the public. They have a lot to hide. They go around mobilising proxies to fight this battle for them. We are the last to act unethically in respect to patient confidentiality because we are the custodians of that.”
The two largest medical aid schemes Government Employee Medical Aid Scheme and Discovery Health Medical Aid Scheme were unable to comment at time of going to print.
-TMG Digital/The Times
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