National health insurance: no funds allocated

2009-11-02 00:00

CAPE TOWN — It would appear that the introduction of a national health insurance system (NHI) has been put on ice.

Until recently the ANC has said it wants to introduce the NHI as soon as possible, but the medium-term budget framework has not allocated funds for it for the next three years.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the emphasis will first fall on fixing the state’s health service.

Economists.co.za economist Mike Schüssler said the government seems to have gained a degree of realism about an NHI. “Now would be an impossible time to introduce [additional] taxes,” he said.

However, the building blocks are being laid for a national health insurance through the allocation of additional funds for health services. Over the next three years the health budget will rise by an estimated 8,6% to R115 billion.

Players in the South African health-care system all agree that change is necessary, as more than 40 million people without medical aid have to rely on deteriorating state medical services.

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