South Africa’s National Health Insurance Fund (NHI) Bill was released on August 8, 2019. Bonitas Medical Fund shares its preliminary views.
‘We welcome the efforts of the Department of Health insofar as it aims to achieve sustainable and affordable universal access to quality healthcare services for all South Africans and are in full support of the intent towards universal healthcare,’ says Lee Callakoppen, Principal Officer of Bonitas.
‘We note the detail that has gone into the Bill and have embarked on a comprehensive review. As a Fund we view this as a positive milestone which will allow debate and engagement between all stakeholders, to strengthen the healthcare system of South Africa’.
South Africa’s healthcare system remains highly unequal
When expressed as a proportion of gross domestic product, roughly the same amount of money is spent on catering for the roughly 16% of South Africans who have medical aid as the other 84% who rely on the overstretched public health system, according to a review of World Health Organisation data recently published by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection. The reality is that many South Africans use a combination of both the public and private healthcare sectors, thus the number of people with medical aid does not equate to the number of people using the private health sector. The converse is also true with some medical scheme members using public hospitals or State clinical protocols for the treatment of specific conditions such as Tuberculosis.
‘We have always supported the intent of universal healthcare and believe that it is in the interests of the greater good of everyone – and not just the 16 percent of the population who belong to medical schemes,’ he said.
Callakoppen stresses the point that ‘For NHI Fund to be a success, collaboration between medical schemes and government is essential. There are various aspects to consider when it comes to the Bill but, most importantly, central to it all is the impact on its users – South Africans.’
‘We also note that the Bill outlines a transitional arrangement, this can be seen as a positive because the roll out of NHI will not happen overnight. There is much work still to be done, beginning with the process of stakeholder engagement and debate if we are to work towards implementing universal healthcare in accordance with our Constitution.’
‘It’s important for all stakeholders – including civil society – to actively participate in these processes to ensure a fair, participatory and transparent process which will lead to a reasonable NHI Bill that will ensure a sustainable, workable, stable and quality healthcare industry.’
Bonitas is currently evaluating the full NHI Fund Bill and will continue to provide insight and comment to ensure that South African’s access to healthcare is enhanced.