Big plans for SA’s health

THE government plans to set up a national medical aid plan with compulsory contributions from all working South Africans that will ensure everyone will have access to quality health services.

Medical schemes will only provide top-up cover under the National Health Insurance, there will be a central fund established to pay for the NHI, and doctors will choose to participate in the scheme if they want to.

These were some of the key announcements made by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at the release of the White Paper on National Health Insurance at a press conference in Pretoria recently.

Under the NHI, medical schemes will only offer top-up cover for those services not covered by the NHI, the NHI will be funded through a central fund (partially funded from a payroll levy), medical brokers will be done away with (they currently receive R1,5 billion per year), and doctors will be able to access the central fund if they choose to participate in the NHI.

The NHI will not be a sprint, but will be an ultramarathon, said Motsoaledi.

The Cabinet met on December 9, and it was presumed that the NHI White Paper was on the agenda, as it was later confirmed that the cabinet had approved the White Paper, and that public comment would be invited.

The purpose of the NHI National Health Insurance “seeks to transform the South African healthcare system with emphasis on the promotion of health and the prevention of diseases. It also seeks to provide access to quality and affordable healthcare services for all South Africans based on their health needs irrespective of their socio-economic status”, according to the South African Government website.

The government green paper was released in August 2011, and it proposed that the NHI would be implemented within 14 years. Pilot districts were established in all nine provinces.

The cost of implementing the NHI is projected to R225 billion by 2025. Possibilities of raising these funds, according to reports from 2012, include a payroll levy for all employed South Africans and increase in VAT, or an income tax surcharge. These possible sources of revenue were confirmed by Motsoaledi.

SA’s economy is under increasing pressure, and how the government proposes to fund the NHI is a topic of interest for all South Africans. Another issue is how the public and private health sectors will function alongside one another, and what the future will be of medical schemes in SA.

Motsoaledi announced yesterday that under the NHI, medical schemes will only offer top-up cover for those services not covered by the NHI.

There are state hospitals that would need a serious upgrade and in 2013 President Zuma proposed that this would be undertaken through public-private partnerships.

Motsoaledi confirmed in yesterday’s address that you can’t have a proper healthcare service without a proper healthcare infrastructure.

— Health24.

The NHI will not be a sprint, but will be an ultramarathon, said Motsoaledi.

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