Na­tional Health In­sur­ance set in mo­tion

African Times - - News - PIET RAMPEDI

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. We want 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 NHI 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; and

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 goodqual­ity, 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 aim was 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.

FORG­ING AHEAD: Health Min­is­ter Dr Aaron Mot­soaledi has an­nounced NHI de­tails.

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