NHI to go ahead against any obstacle

Author: Khaya Koko   Published: 2017-05-15

Source: The Star

NATIONAL Health Insurance (NHI), aimed at introducing affordable healthcare for all South Africans, will be implemented whether there is opposition to it or not. These were the stern words of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, and Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology. Both Ministers are part of the ANC national executive committee sub-committee on health, education, and science and technology. Motsoaledi said the government had a constitutional responsibility to provide affordable healthcare to all citizens, irrespective of their economic status. He said the World Health Organisation recommended that countries spend five percent of their gross domestic product on healthcare, but that South Africa spends more than the recommended amount, and in a disproportionate manner.

He said South Africa currently spends 8.5 percent of GDP on health. The private sector spends 4.4 percent of GDP on health but only provides care to 16 percent of the population. The public sector spends 4.1 percent of GDP on health but provides care to 84 percent of the population. Motsoaledi argued that this current financing system is unjust and needs to be reorganised so we can pool public and private sector funds to provide quality and affordable healthcare to all South Africans. Asked whether the government was prepared for the ongoing NHI backlash from private healthcare providers, Motsoaledi pointed to the inquiry currently being conducted by the Competition Commission to ascertain whether there are unfair market practices in private healthcare.

He said “the war” started when the private sector tried and failed to block the inquiry from going ahead by going to court. Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele of the Competition Commission said last month that he expected the inquiry into the private healthcare sector to be completed by the end of the year. Motsoaledi said this is socioeconomic transformation. You can also call it radical economic transformation, because the whole aim of NHI and checking the price of private healthcare is not only about health - it’s about economics; it’s about who gets what. He said there is going to be a great deal of pushback and, yes, he is prepared for it.

Pandor, the chairperson of the sub-committee, echoed Motsoaledi’s sentiments that the ANC is prepared for a private sector pushback. She said we are resolute that we must create a National Health Insurance system in our country, and that we should have improved access to quality healthcare by ensuring that, as a nation, we contribute towards providing this quality healthcare. Pandor said the private sector has the option in terms of the policy proposals of becoming a part of the NHI, which happens in other domains that they offer particular services - because it is a package of services that will be available. She said that in many systems all over the world, such as the National Health Service in the UK, the private sector offers partial services or portions of the package.

Source: The Star