Health scheme approved All sections of the community to be considered
CABINET has approved the setting up of a National Health Insurance Scheme that will see the majority of Zimbabweans accessing universal health care.
All sections of the community including those in the informal sector and farmers will be considered as Government moves to ensure all citizens have access to health care cover.
The move to establish such a scheme benefitting everyone came after the realisation that only 10 percent of Zimbabweans are covered by medical aid societies.
Drafting for the NHIS Bill has since commenced following the approval of principles presented to Cabinet by Public Service, Labour and Social Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira and supported by her Health and Child Care counterpart Dr David Parirenyatwa.
Minister Mupfumira yesterday said Cabinet had recommended that the National Social Security Authority administers the scheme. Workers will be taxed to finance the scheme. “Cabinet approved the drafting of a universal National Health Insurance Scheme Bill which is intended to mitigate current woes bedeviling the medical aid schemes,” Minister Mupfumira said.
“The objectives of the scheme are to extend health care coverage to all Zimbabweans as the current private medical aid schemes only cover 10 percent of the formally employed citizens. The scheme also seeks to redress inequities in coverage. The informal sector will for the first time be recognised under this massive quasi-Government institute.”
The scheme was mooted in 2007 but was shot down by workers and parliament.
They argued it would further strain overtaxed workers since the initial proposal was to tax workers five percent.
Minister Mupfumira said NHIS would usher in a new era of transparency in the financing of health care.
“Currently, the health care standards are deplorable due to mismanaged voluntary medical insurance schemes traditionally benefitting workers in formal employment only.”
“Government deliberately pursued the idea of a universal health insurance after conducting a series of study visits and numerous consultations which added value to the proposed principles. The main drive and rationale for the national health scheme is that resources for health services are being grossly over-stretched. In most instances, Government is left to provide free health for more people while the financing base is too small to support such a system. This is resulting in the deterioration in quality of service and poor staff morale.”
She went on: “Cabinet recommended NSSA for administration of the scheme as it remains the most resilient insurance and pension agency. A National Health Insurance Scheme which is within the framework of social security will not only ensure the financing aspect of health services but is also a social programme that legislatively grants individuals the right to health services.”
She said further investments in the health sector were needed if Government’s target of “a clinic within eight kilometres for all” was to be met.
“The pooling of resources in a national scheme gives an opportunity for investment in health provision. There are inequalities in accessibility between the ‘rich’ who enjoy sophisticated levels of services, largely financed through medical aid societies and the ‘poor’ who receive the basic services. The rationale of a National Health Insurance Scheme is the risk sharing amongst all members of the scheme and redress of the imbalances and inequalities in the provision of health. There is need to bring in new sources of financing and to reconsider how the limited funds available can be effectively rationed to meet the Governments’ overall health and equity objectives. The pooling of resources would facilitate meeting the objective, while at the same time a fund is created which is clearly earmarked for health purposes and is independent of the pressures on the general Government budget.”
Other countries like South Africa and Tanzania have already adopted such a scheme.