Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill was not going to be a once-off event but would take place in a phased-in approach.
He briefed the media in Pretoria today after the bill was gazetted. The bill seeks to establish the NHI Fund, a single public purchaser and financier of health services for the country.
Motsoaledi said the cost of private healthcare was out of the reach of many citizens.
According to the World Health Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, only 10 percent of South Africa’s population can afford what is currently being charged in private health care.
The NHI – a health financing system that is designed to pool funds to provide access to quality, affordable health care – is part of government’s major health sector reforms and is being rolled out over a 14 year period.
Motsoaledi said they are now in the fifth year of the NHI implementation phase.
As part of the implementation, the bill intends to abolish co-payments.
“The amendment means that every cent charged to the patient must be settled fully by the scheme and the patient should not be burdened with having to pay,” Motsoaledi said.
The second amendment is to abolish the practice of using brokers within the medical scheme environment.
Motsoaledi said almost two thirds of principal members of medical aid schemes pay R90 a month to a broker as part of their premium.
He said the total amount paid to brokers in 2017 was R2.2 billion.
“We want this money to be made available to pay for direct health expenses of members rather than serving brokers who are actually not needed in the healthcare system.”
Among the other amendments which will affect consumer pockets include the introduction of an income cross-subsidisation model.
“The rich must subsidise the poor, the young must subsidise the old and the healthy must subsidise the sick,” Motsoaledi said.
– African News Agency (ANA)