NHI White Paper due soon

According to a Business Day Live report, the long-awaited White Paper on National Health Insurance (NHI), together with a linked discussion document on financing options, are about to enter the Cabinet process.

A Green Paper, published in August 2011 contained a broad outline of what the NHI wants to achieve. One of the main reasons for the lack of progress was how it would be financed, but it appears that there is now progress on this.

Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, declined to comment on the financial implications of the NHI White Paper, saying only that it was a system that the government believed was affordable.

In the original paper, the following question and answer provides an indication of possible funding of the NHI:

Q: If people can afford to buy private healthcare, will they have to participate in NHI?
A: We need to make a distinction between a citizen participating in the NHI as a contributor and a citizen participating in NHI as a patient. If you earn above a certain income you will be required by law to make a contribution to the NHI Fund. It will not be possible to opt out of this responsibility.

A report in Die Burger on the same matter says that, for the NHI to be successful, 3 500 government clinics must be improved by 2018 to be in a position to deliver quality healthcare to everyone. This includes decreasing waiting times for patients to under two hours, preventing medicine shortages and ensuring that medical personnel treat all patients with dignity.

The article states that the Minister also indicated that “The NHI will start to regulate medical aids. Prices must be fixed. The National Development Plan requires prices of private medical services to drop drastically.”.

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