South Africa

NHI unconstitutional and unimplementable – Martin Kingston

Martin Kingston

Martin Kingston, chairman of Business for South Africa (B4SA), said the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is unconstitutional and unimplementable.

Speaking to The Money Show, Kingston said numerous problems with the bill had been overlooked, and complaints have been ignored.

He said the bill is unlikely to pass constitutional muster. “We think it limits South African citizens’ freedom of choice and the ability to access healthcare,” he said.

“We also think it will materially delay access to universal healthcare in the country unless the amendments we and others proposed are affected.”

Kingston added that the NHI Bill in its current form will lead to significant disinvestment in the private healthcare system.

It goes beyond private medical aid schemes, private hospitals, and private clinics. Private practices created by doctors and dentists will also suffer.

“We are concerned that the minister has granted unfettered discretion to determine his own powers related to the NHI,” he said.

There are several substantive and procedural constitutional points that B4SA will bring to President Cyril Ramaphosa before he signs it into law.

Kingston’s comments followed after the National Council of Provinces passed the NHI Bill at a sitting in Cape Town on Wednesday, 6 December.

The NHI seeks to ensure all South Africans have access to quality healthcare services and provides for the establishment of a fund for this purpose.

The NHI fund will be used to pay for almost all treatment from accredited providers, with rates to be set by the state.

After the NHI is implemented, private medical aid providers can only pay for products and services that the fund does not cover.

The Bill will now be referred to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who can either sign it into law or request lawmakers to amend it.

Many organisations, including SAMA, warned that the NHI Bill will chase medical professionals out of South Africa.

SAMA said it is deeply concerned about the passing of the NHI Bill despite numerous objections by the organisation.

It said the bill excluded suggestions by medical professionals, including doctors, which poses a risk of an exodus of these sought-after skills from the country.

Without healthcare professionals’ buy-in, the chance of success for the planned national health insurance is slim.


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