National Health Insurance Bill – Controversy or agreement?

On Thursday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize released the much-awaited National Health Insurance (NHI) bill in Pretoria. He said that it is expected to be fully functional in South Africa by 2026. The Health Department said the bill promised to create a healthier population with benefits to foreign nationals, inmates and refugees.

In his speech he mentioned that “the objective of the NHI is to achieve universal access to quality health care services in the Republic, in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution, through the establishment of the NHI Fund. It is based on the principle of Social Solidarity where we will look after each other in times of medical need. The comprehensive health care services the NHI will provide are bound by the philosophy of Wholistic Approach to health care spanning from preventative strategies all the way to convalescent and palliative care.”

The release of the bill was widely welcomed by various groups in the sector. It was however also criticised in the media, especially around the question of funding. Dr Anban Pillay, the Department of Health’s deputy director-general for NHI, explained as follows: “The main source of funding (for the NHI) is appropriations which are from Parliament into the fund and the chief sources of income for the appropriations are general tax revenue; funds that may be shifted from the provincial equitable share and conditional grants into the fund; a reduction of the medical scheme tax credits over time; the possible consideration of a payroll tax as well as a surcharge on personal income tax.”

A lot of controversy still remains. Will there be an extra burden on tax payers? What will the impact be on medical aids?

Click here to download the Health Department’s Key Messages on the National Health Insurance (NHI).

Click here to download the National Health Insurance Bill.

Click here to read how the media and some political parties reacted.

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