The National Health Insurance (NHI) has thrown itself back into the headlines over the last few weeks. Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has released a proposed bill and organisations, NGOs and opposition parties all don’t seem to be happy with it.
Last week, Motsoaledi confirmed that the NHI fund will be mandatory to every South African that can afford to pay into it. With the goal of NHI being to provide free quality health care for all, the plan is set to be work like a massive state-run medical aid.
The NHI would then pay for all state and private health care in the country. This would include private specialists hospitals, making all health care in the country free when accessed.
On Wednesday, the DA entered into the mix by releasing a detailed statement going through the “problems” with the bill as well as noting numerous concerns.
While the DA says it acknowledges and affirms the need for universal healthcare, the party does not believe the proposed bill “provides a workable model to achieve”.
DA Shadow Minister of Health, Patricia Kopane, says that the NHI is little more than an attempt by the ANC to “co-opt private sector healthcare and its clients to remedy the rapidly failing public sector healthcare.”
“The NHI pilot projects have failed abysmally already. If a pilot project is unsuccessful, there is no chance that it will be successful nationally.”
“Indeed, the proposed creation of a single National Health Insurance Fund is little more than the creation of another enormous state-owned entity. This is greatly concerning considering the government’s dismal performance in managing SOEs and its equally dismal performance in providing healthcare,” Kopane said.
The DA also points out how the NHI Fund is set to be larger than the already struggling Road Accident Fund. The party believes that the bill in its current forms leaves “massive potential” for institutionalised corruption.
Arguably the biggest pitfall from Motsoaledi’s announcement last week came when he admitted that he did not know how much the NHI will cost. While he promised that it would be rolled out in a way that the country could afford, he said that it was Treasury’s job to find the money.
Earlier this week, a group of medical practitioners revealed that they would leave South Africa if they are forced to charge particular amounts set by government. Kopane says the country simply can not afford to lose doctors in the private sector.
The DA says that its own healthcare plan, titled Our Health Plan, would subsidise those already on medical aid with a “universal health subsidy”. For those not on medical aid, reforms will be made to improve the state of public healthcare.