South Africa

NHI will make healthcare worse in South Africa 

The government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) plan will worsen healthcare provision in South Africa as the limits placed on private healthcare funding will weaken the national system. 

This is feedback from the managing director of the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF), Dr Katlego Mothudi, in the build-up to the organisation’s annual conference. 

The conference aims to create a platform for stakeholders to discuss the implications of the NHI Bill and outline the industry’s response should it be signed into law. 

The NHI Bill is currently on President Ramaphosa’s desk, waiting to be signed into law. This will set the wheel in motion regarding its implementation, which is set to take around a decade. 

The bill is progressing despite strong criticism from businesses and civil society groups. They argue the current form of the NHI was pushed through Parliament without sufficient public input and risks collapsing the national healthcare system. 

The BHF said it will unveil research on perceptions around medical schemes and private healthcare at the conference, showing that the private healthcare industry is often portrayed negatively. 

The research revealed that the narrative often lacks factual evidence and unfairly portrays the industry in a negative manner. 

Mothudi said the industry today is characterised by an integrated approach towards public and private health citizens and said the private sector has a critical role in advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in South Africa. 

“In this respect, the BHF supports UHC and recognises the NHI as one of the mechanisms towards its progressive realisation,”  he said. 

“However, BHF does not support the NHI Bill in its current form due to the unconstitutionality of several of its provisions, its proposed restriction of medical schemes, and the concomitant loss of economic value that will inevitably follow.”

“The private health funding sector in South Africa should not be sacrificed in favour of NHI,” Mothudi said. 

He argued that the private healthcare sector is a valuable source of jobs, scarce skills, infrastructure, financial investment, and quality healthcare. 

“The value it adds to the economy and the support it provides to the public health sector cannot be underestimated. The bill reduces the role of the private sector, and we want those sections removed,” he said. 

In fact, the NHI Bill weakens the private healthcare system. Mothudi said that weakening any aspect of the private health sector will weaken the national health system rather than strengthen it.

In anticipation of the bill’s signing, many parties in the sector are set to challenge it. BHF has invited various legal experts to present a way forward for the industry should the bill be signed. 


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