Finweek English Edition - - Online -

South Africa’s Con­sti­tu­tion ev­ery ci­ti­zen has the right to ac­cess health­care ser­vices. Yet the stark re­al­ity is that for most of SA’s pop­u­la­tion that right is worth less than the pa­per it’s writ­ten on.

Speak­ing at the Board of Health­care Fun­ders (BHF) South­ern Africa con­fer­ence re­cently, Blum Khan, CEO of the Metropoli­tan Health Group, said SA had to look at new ways of of­fer­ing a na­tional health­care sys­tem – with large pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role.

A part­ner­ship be­tween the pub­lic and pri­vate health sec­tors, and the will­ing­ness of pri­vate health­care in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to be in­volved and add value, would make an NHI work­able, Khan said.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion at Sun City he out­lined fu­ture pay­ment sce­nar­ios, say­ing the “sin­gle payer model” and not the cur­rent multi-payer model – which com­prised a host of com­pet­ing pri­vate schemes – was pre­ferred by Gov­ern­ment. Though the sin­gle payer fund would prob­a­bly be ad­min­is­tered by Gov­ern­ment there could be al­lowance for “top-up” fund­ing. “It will be sim­pler for pa­tients and save on over­heads,” Khan said.

In re­al­ity, the enor­mous cost of im­ple­ment­ing an NHI while pro­vid­ing ba­sic health­care would be what en­cour­aged Gov­ern­ment to con­sider a part­ner­ship with pri­vate health­care fun­ders. Pri­vate ad­min­is­tra­tors had the ex­pe­ri­ence and sys­tems in place to make an NHI work.

Khan out­lined his five-point view on how an NHI could work in SA, based in part on his ex­pe­ri­ences of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a sim­i­lar sys­tem in Aus­tralia, where he pre­vi­ously lived.” First of all, a part­ner­ship be­tween the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal to the whole process. Sec­ond, all SA res­i­dents will play a role in an NHI. That will be phased in, with em­ployed cit­i­zens pay­ing first and then the self-em­ployed com­ing on board. Third, cit­i­zens who cur­rently have pri­vate

New ways must be in­ves­ti­gated

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