South Africa

NHI rushed through to win votes

The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill has been rushed through the parliamentary process with minimal regard for input from business and civil society to score political points ahead of the national elections at the end of May. 

This is feedback from business leaders, who have criticised the procedural flaws in implementing the NHI and its unconstitutionality. 

President Ramaphosa has signed the NHI Bill into law, making it an act of Parliament, in a signing ceremony this week. 

The NHI plans to transform South Africa’s healthcare system to achieve universal coverage for health services. 

While business and civil society support this aim, they have said the current scheme will not achieve it as it cuts out private funding, is unconstitutional, and is unworkable. 

Business Unity South Africa believes that the legislation, in its current form, is unimplementable and damaging to the country’s healthcare sector, the economy more broadly, and investor confidence.  

“The unfortunate consequence is that this version will hamper, rather than promote, access to quality healthcare for all citizens in our country,” BUSA CEO Cas Coovadia told 702

He reiterated that BUSA is not against the concept of NHI but believes the only way to achieve it is if the public and private sectors work together. 

Instead, the NHI cuts out the private sector as it bans private funding for medical procedures covered by the NHI. 

When asked if the NHI has been rushed through to score political points ahead of this election, Coovadia said that is the assumption you have to make. 

He said the government needs to respond to that accusation as, while it is an election year, the national interest must come first. 

“It should be made clear that the NHI, in its current form, is not in the national interest.” 

Business Unity SA (BUSA) CEO Cas Coovadia

Coovadia’s comments echo those of Business for South Africa (B4SA) CEO Martin Kingston, who said earlier this year that the passage of the NHI through Parliament made a mockery of democracy. 

“For the National Assembly and the NCOP to disregard proposed amendments that will have a beneficial and tangible impact on citizens in the interest of rushing the Bill through Parliament is unconstitutional,” Kingston said. 

“They need to apply their minds carefully and cautiously. We will act in haste and repent at leisure.” 

When asked why such an important Bill would be pushed through without due consideration, Kingston said it was being used to score political points. 

“It is a fundamental pillar of the election campaign, and they want to demonstrate to the population that they are delivering the NHI,” he explained. 

While B4SA accepts the need for universal healthcare, it believes it must be sustainably funded, provide high-quality healthcare, and be implemented properly after due process.


Top JSE indices