Refugees, migrants and health care in South Africa, explained
Keep up to date with our Teach-Yourself Series – condensed articles on migration issues in South Africa. Our articles and infographics aim to spread awareness on South Africa’s migration landscape, and our standpoints on the issue. This is a joint init …
- How is the South African healthcare system structured?
- What does the law say about migrants and refugees accessing healthcare in South Africa?
- Who pays what at clinics and hospitals?
- What about accessing specialist treatment, such as kidney dialysis?
- What about organ transplants?
- What about accessing treatment for HIV or TB?
- What about accessing private hospitals?
- The reality of accessing healthcare in South Africa
- How do we respond to inflammatory comments about ‘foreigners draining the healthcare system’?
- What is needed to improve the situation?
- I have more questions. Who can I ask?
Who pays what at clinics and hospitals?
The Uniform Patient Fee Schedule sets out who must pay for certain services at a South African health facility, which is explained in the Classification of Patients for the Determination of Fees. Note that fees are not payable for “free services”.6
In short, the following non-nationals should be means-tested (in the same way as South African citizens) at the hospital:
- Non-South Africans who have permanent or temporary residency in a passport, and
- Anyone from the SADC region who is undocumented.7
The hospital looks at what they earn and decides what fee they should pay. Remember (as we stated above) that refugees and asylum seekers are subject to the same test; the hospital decides what level of fee they must pay depending on their income.
It means that the following people will have to pay full fees at the healthcare facility, and cannot access a means-test:
- Undocumented people from outside the SADC region,
- people on a tourist/visitor’s visa.