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NHI will have some losers and winners

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The government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme aims to induce “massive” restructuring of the public and private healthcare sectors that could see some citizens getting lower-quality services than they currently receive from private practitioners and hospitals.

There is also some risk that poor workers, rural dwellers and farm labourers might receive less equitable treatment under the NHI, which aims to penalise patients for bypassing the referral system, encourages the use of health facilities close to home and doesn’t provide for transport costs, which amplify the high cost of accessing healthcare for the poor.

The referral system requires that patients have to first present themselves at a primary healthcare facility or a contracted general practitioner, for example, and then be referred through the system to specialists and hospitals.

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