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Understanding the National Health Insurance Bill – Six articles to read

Understanding the National Health Insurance Bill – Six articles to read
Minister of Health Joe Phaahla during a National Health Insurance (NHI) workshop. (Photo: GICS)

South Africa's biggest health policy overhaul will be signed into law this week. What have the experts said about the National Health Insurance Bill and its potential impact on South Africans?

President Cyril Ramaphosa will sign the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law on Wednesday, 15 May despite concern from opposition political parties and the private medical industry about its financial viability and impact on the healthcare system.

We’ve put together a list of six articles from our archive either written by, or after interviewing experts on the topic, that explain what the Bill is, how likely it is to achieve its goals and what the potential impact on South Africans will be.

1. National Health Insurance is a big fat empty promise – experts

New healthcare legislation is unimplementable, unaffordable, unclear and unlikely to happen any time soon, say the experts.

2. NHI – the problem with trying to kill two birds with one stone

Although those who work closely with the public health service naturally welcome the expected increase in public-sector funding, it is incorrect to assume that this will automatically improve badly run public hospitals, writes Dave Martin, co-founder of a rural health and education nonprofit in the Eastern Cape. If you throw more money at them, things might look somewhat better for a while, but it would be just hiding the truth of the failing system of management.

3. The NHI debate is throwing up misconceptions – here are the facts

The evidence suggests that the private sector is inefficient and unsustainable in the long run, while the National Health Insurance offers a cost-effective solution, writes Dr Olive Shisana, an honorary professor at the University of Cape Town and special adviser to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

4. The origins of opposition to the NHI Bill are rooted in the bigger problems of trust and competence

A legitimate concern about the proposed National Health Insurance is the almost complete lack of trust in the state-government-elite axis to manage effectively anything more than rinsing a tumbler. The rest is simply ideological and disingenuous, writes Opinionista Ismail Lagardien.

5. We are unlikely to be equitably able to access lifesaving, affordable medicines under NHI

All patients and the very sick should benefit from the best medicines and care science has to offer, not just the rich or the employed. At the same time, Universal Health Coverage should better public health outcomes. But this is exactly what the NHI Bill does not do, as currently drafted, writes Fatima Hassan, founder and director of the Health Justice Initiative, and a human rights lawyers and social justice activist.

6. There are paths to quality universal healthcare besides NHI

One of the most damaging aspects of our public discourse on National Health Insurance is the mistaken notion in some quarters that the only two options are NHI and the status quo, writes Marcus Low, editor of Spotlight. DM







Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • The ANC has robbed , plundered and destroyed every SOE. The final nail in the coffin for us South Africans would be the medical sector and with high taxes ensures the middle class is eradicated completely. The working class need to lobby against this.

  • Richard Blake says:

    Another milestone in the ANC’s aggressive looting policies. They will all be licking their lips and rubbing hands together on Wednesday.

  • Stuart Thom says:

    SAA = Fail
    ESKOM = Fail
    Post Office= Fail
    Railways = Fail
    Roads = Fail
    Now the ANC thinks it can run NHI. More looting and tendeunering, just like covid.

  • William Dryden says:

    More pre election bribery from the ANC, Ramaphosa will go to any lengths and tell as many lies as he can to keep the ANC in power. He should be ashamed to show his face on any poster or television programme, but then no backbone just like a jelly fish.

  • The UK has the NHS which is woeful as we all know BUT those who can afford it can pay for private insurance, its a choice and this must remain in place for SA.
    The downside to that is that UK taxpayers pay for the NHS in their paypacket whether they use it or not and must then pay an additional amount if they want private insurance.
    So either way, if we adopt that scenario, it amounts to a tax increase.

  • Lenka Mojau says:

    Well I support signing of the bill into law. Health care must be accessible to all, rather than being made a privilege to a select few. However it must be coupled with introduction of measure to educate the population about staying health through following correct nutrition lifestyle for those who can afford quality foods. Again things like sugar and salt should be massively taxed. Sugar and Salt are the prime silent killers of the nation. Alcohol as well is very cheap compared to natural water, however it’s effects is causting the state a fortune. If one looks at car accidents about 7 out of 10 accidents may be attributed to alcohol consumption and driving under the influence. Murders, divorces (whether through adultery or physical abuse, aloholism etc), work absentism are few examples of alcohol problems that affect the state.

  • Johan Buys says:

    IF the government had been running public health halfway well, NHI would have a chance.

    Their track record has given us worse health outcomes than countries that spend less than half per capita as our government does.

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