Already missing Manto
But guess who isn’t?
THIS COLUMN WILL miss Manto TshabalalaMsimang. As Health Minister she was a source of amazement, from her weird alternative concoction to fight HIV/Aids to her ham-fisted attack on the private healthcare sector to those funny hats she wears. And she would often cause havoc with sectors of share prices. Wonder if she’ll still be able to do that in the office of the presidency?
But I’ll bet the private hospital groups aren’t going to miss her. They don’t like the idea of regulation and price capping, but from what I could gather were prepared to debate issues. Medical inflation is too high, Government is right to tackle it and private hospital bosses and some doctors and specialists seem to realise that. There’s common ground that should work for all parties – but not in the brusque way TshabalalaMsimang was trying to do it.
As an aside, apart from being expensive, doctors infuriate me because they have this idea their time is so precious but your time doesn’t matter at all. They’ll happily leave you sitting in their waiting room for 30 minutes or longer after your appointment time, spend the first 15 minutes on the phone to some other patient in the time you’re paying for when you finally get in and then wonder why you get upset.
But I’ve found a solution. I pay doctors late – very late. When I start getting calls two or three months after my visit, I politely remind them that my time is as valuable as theirs and until they learn that I’ll keep paying late. Doctors are very payment sensitive: they listen closely when you tell them why they’re waiting for their payment.
Barbara Hogan seems a good candidate to take over the Health Department. From what I’ve been able to ascertain, she has no blotches on her long record as an MP and is regarded as a hard worker. There’s much damage to repair but I think she can only be good for Health.
And she should offer some respite for private hospital share prices, which have been hammered over the uncertainty about healthcare policy.
There’s been no immediate response to TshabalalaMsimang’s exit and Hogan’s entrance. Prices of both Medi-Clinic and Netcare were down over the past week, but in our global financial crisis-wracked market that means little. But they have respectively lost about 20% and 30% over the past year, so there should be recovery. Both are good businesses, bedevilled so far by illconceived health politics. Brimstone, on a low earnings multiple under three times and generous dividend yield above 6%, is also an option. It owns more than 20% of delisted Life Healthcare, part of the portfolio where performance ashould improve under the new health guard.
SHAUN HARRIS firstname.lastname@example.org