CAPE TOWN, 5 MAY 2024: Against the backdrop of the impending changes to the healthcare
landscape proposed by the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill, the 23rd annual conference of
the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) stands as the advocate for strategic dialogue,
innovation and collaboration.

As one of the largest healthcare conventions on the continents, the BHF annual conference
brings together key stakeholders from across the healthcare industry to provide practical
insights into current industry practices and challenges while exploring innovative solutions to
navigate the future of sustainable healthcare in South Africa.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, BHF Chairperson and POLMED Principal Officer,
Neo Khauoe, reaffirmed the conference’s mission to lead the charge in fostering innovative
ideas and strategies to assist the industry in navigating the constantly evolving landscape.

“Given the uncertain climate of the South African healthcare sector, sustainability forms the core
emphasis of the conference, guiding every discussion, decision, and innovation. For us, it is not
just a topic, but the very essence of our commitment to shaping a resilient and equitable future
for healthcare.”

Under the theme of “Beyond Barriers: Navigating the Future for Sustainable Healthcare”, the
opening of the conference was attended by over 450 industry organisations and respective
delegates, including the Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dlomo.

The opening day of the conference featured keynote addresses, interactive sessions and
thought-provoking discussions around pertinent industry-related issues and challenges, with
specific focus on creating person-centric health systems and exploring topics such as the
burden of disease trends and sustainable practice management.

Given that BHF’s primary concern remains the wellbeing of over 6.5 million beneficiaries across
the seven member countries that it represents, the organisation has adopted and supported the
principles of universal health coverage (UHC), and recognises the NHI Bill’s intended purpose.

While the BHF endorses the principles of UHC, as defined by the World Health Organization
(WHO), and considers it a strategic imperative for all stakeholders within the healthcare sector, it
does not support the implementation of the NHI Bill in its current iteration

“Our dissatisfaction with the NHI Bill in its current form is not to be confused with an aversion to
Universal Health Coverage goals. If anything, we believe that private healthcare serves a pivotal
role in advancing these goals,” added Khauoe. “This is not a sign of defiance or an inability to
‘adapt with the times’, but upon careful interrogation of the Bill, we have found that it threatens
our very vision and role as health funders.”

Despite additional provisions being unconstitutional, the Bill restricts medical schemes to the
provision of complementary cover, potentially rendering them unsustainable. Furthermore, the
significant economic value that medical schemes currently add to the health sector would be
lost should the bill go ahead unchanged. To this end, BHF strongly believes this section should
be removed as well as all references to complementary cover contained in the Bill.

Khauoe suggests that in the realm of healthcare, no entity or state can afford to continue with a
siloed approach. Instead, an integrated approach towards public and private health citizens will
achieve a system that will work better for the realisation of accessible healthcare for all.

For this reason, it is imperative to foster transparent and constructive dialogue on pertinent
industry matters among organisations such as BHF and its members, the National Department
of Health, and regulatory authorities to promote stability and enhance relationships within the
medical scheme industry in pursuit of a common goal.

“Despite occasional disagreements, it is important to recognise that we share a common goal.
While our approaches may differ at times, we are ultimately working towards the same objective
driving for change that will reset the course of the South African healthcare industry,”
concludes Khauoe.