ALL South Africans could soon enjoy the benefits of private healthcare sooner than they thought following the gazzeting of the National Health Insurance.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi made the announcement last as the Bill was sent for public comment.
The minister said the Bill would lay the foundation for an overhaul of the healthcare industry in the country.
Motsoaledi indicated that chief among the changes that will come with it will be the elimination of healthcare brokers.
“Almost two-thirds of principal members of medical schemes pay a monthly fee to a broker as part of their premium, and most members don’t even know they pay brokers,” said Motsoaledi.
“The total amount paid to brokers by members of medical schemes is now R2.2 billion. Wewant this money to be available to pay for direct health expenses of members rather than to brokers, who are not needed in the healthcare system.”
The National Health Insurance is expected to be the only public purchaser and financier of health services in the country going forward. The NHI Fund will:
1). Enter into contracts with accredited public and private service providers based on the healthcare needs of users;
2). Determine prices annually after consultation with healthcare providers, healthcare establishments and suppliers;
3). Collate utilisation data and implement information management systems to assist in monitoring the quality and standard of healthcare services, medicines, health goods and health-related products procured by the fund.
4). The fund will purchase health service benefits on behalf of South African citizens, as well as accommodate people who are permanently resident in the Republic. A temporary resident will have the right to emergency medical treatment in terms of the provisions of his or her travel insurance.
5). The fund will service all inmates as provided for in section 12 of the Correctional Services Act. Refugees and asylum seekers who have not been granted refugee status will have the right to emergency healthcare services and paediatric and maternity services at primary healthcare level.
Motsoaledi said the NHI can best be compared to the on going land debate in the country with some opposing it.
“It will not be an exaggeration to say that the NHI is the land question of health. In the same way the land issue is raging all over the country, NHI is going to rage in a similar way, not only in the field of health but in the economic and social lives of our people,” he said. Motsoaledi added that no country can fight poverty, unemployment and grow the economy with a very sick population.
“Hence every citizen, to reach their potential in all other aspects of their life, needs good quality, equitable healthcare
regardless of who they are. To achieve this, equitable and fair financing of health is an inevitable occurrence. Under
NHI, the rich will subsidise the poor. The young will subsidise the old. The healthy will subsidise the sick. The urban will subsidise the rural,” Motsoaledi added.
But not all sectors of society are welcoming the move. The South African Society of Anesthesiologists (SASA) says the bilm will have severe consequences for the country. The organisation said there would be a mass exodus of doctors and specialists if the bill was implemented recklessly.
The society’s vice president, Dr Lance Lasersohn said we need to ask ourselves how we are going to make NHI work when we do not have people to ensure that access is better. Lasersohn said he knew and understood that the NHI’s aimwas to make healthcare more affordable for South Africans.
“It is also about providing the public with access to the healthcare not at a high quality but not at a low quality either,” he said.