The National Health Insurance (NHI) is a health financing system that is designed to pool funds to provide access to quality affordable personal health services for all South Africans based on their health needs, irrespective of their socio-economic status.
It seeks to realise universal health coverage for all South Africans.
It is being implemented in phases over a 14-year period that started in 2012 and is essentially a single fund that seeks to cover all people no matter their income.
The South African government has further plans to establish a body called the NHI Authority, which will gather funds from tax payments.
In the long run, the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) will help to reduce the amount that people pay for healthcare.
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.
While the introduction of the NHI has positive intentions, it also has challenges.
For instance, only 39% of South Africans have a job, therefore there are too few people paying taxes in order to cover the costs. The current state of Government hospitals and clinics also presents another challenge.
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. It’s expected that this move will be met with much resistance from taxpayers.
The Minister of Health has proposed a 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