The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has welcomed the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, tabled by the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Under the NHI, government will provide a package of comprehensive health services for free at private and public health facilities, as part of its bid to provide more equitable access to quality healthcare.
Dr Dhlomo said the Bill has not yet been referred to the committee, although it has been tabled in Parliament.
“We need to wait for the parliamentary processes to take place before anything can be done. I commend the Minister for tabling the NHI Bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly where it will take its process to reach the committee.
“We are extremely happy about this move. This is one of the equalisers of society, where those who are poor can get access to good healthcare. It is a public good and addresses issues of social solidarity. We cannot wait to deliberate on the NHI Bill and have it before the committee, so that those who are down-trodden can comment,” said Dr Dhlomo on Friday.
Through the NHI, government seeks to fulfill its constitutional obligation to provide quality universal health care for all as envisaged in Section 27 of the Constitution and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Under the NHI, South African citizens, permanent residents, refugees, inmates, designated foreign nationals and all children will receive primary healthcare.
Primary healthcare centres such as clinics or general practitioners will be the first point of access to the healthcare. Access to healthcare services will be free at point of care.
“We are confident that our people can see NHI as a great benefit. It would be extremely important to compare the life expectancy before and after the NHI has been implemented. South Africa is learning from those who came before us and who have implemented NHI. NHI is a vehicle of making every citizen have access to healthcare.”
The NHI aims to follow in the footsteps of countries such as Britain and Japan who have also implemented their own equivalent.
Under the bill, medical aid schemes will gradually be phased out until they ultimately cease to exist.
Once fully implemented, the NHI will cover all health services with exception of services highlighted as “complimentary cover”. Complimentary cover which will include health services such as cosmetic healthcare will be covered by medical aids.
Aslyum seekers, illegal immigrants and foreigners with no travel insurance will only receive limited coverage through emergency medical services; and notifiable conditions services.
Foreigners who hold travel insurance will be covered by their own policy. – SAnews.gov.za