Focus on National Health Insurance – How South Africans will benefit

The South African Health industry is currently facing a number of challenges and one of the ways in which the Department of Health is trying to initiate changes is through the proposed National Health Insurance

It’s no secret that most South Africans are reliant on the public health system as medical aid costs are generally unaffordable for most people.

The department hopes that improvements are targeted at giving patients an option to select from a package of care offered by accredited health facilities, whether public or private.

Reforms are currently underway in the health system, which are intended to lay the foundation for the introduction of the National Health Insurance.

According to the Department of Health: 

“The National Health Insurance (NHI) is a financing system that will make sure that all citizens of South Africa (and legal long-term residents) are provided with essential healthcare, regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution to the NHI Fund.”

The insurance is set to cover care at all levels.

The main objective is to provide improved access to cost-effective and quality health services for all South Africans.

The Minister of Health has proposed a “re-engineered PHC system” which aims to encourage a more responsive patient-centred health service promoting health, rather than the current primarily possible one reacting to disease.

The main priorities of the National Health Insurance:

  • Improving the management of public health services
  • Quality improvement audits
  • Infrastructure upgrades
  • Medical devices and equipment upgrade
  • Human resources planning, development and support
  • Information management modernisation
  • Setting up an NHI Fund

Although much has been said about the advantages and potential pitfalls of the National Health Insurance, there is still ongoing debate on where the funding will come from. The Department of Health has been clear about how it aims to fund the programme.

The basic concept so far is that an NHI Fund will be funded by employers and taxpayers’ contributions. So if you earn above a certain income level, you will be required by law to make a contribution to the NHI Fund.

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