Unpacking South Africa’s NHI

Date:

The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, recently signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa, promises free healthcare to all South African citizens at the point of care. Anthony Govender, Chief Visionary Officer and founder of ASI Financial Services gives us the lay of the land.

Now that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill has been signed into law, what is the next step?

With the NHI Bill now enacted into law, the next step involves establishing the NHI Fund as an
autonomous public entity. This process includes appointing a board, conducting nominations,
interviews, and shortlisting candidates, followed by the appointment of a chair.

The Department of Health will then prepare detailed regulations to govern the scope and functioning of the fund, a process that could take six to twelve months or potentially longer.

What is wrong with the current healthcare system?

The South African healthcare system faces a range of systemic and structural challenges,
including widespread inefficiencies, staff shortages, and disparities in skill sets between rural
and urban areas. The level of care and patient management is often sub-optimal.

Limited availability of healthcare resources further hampers access to health services and increases
the risk of poor health outcomes. For instance, physician shortages can lead to longer waiting
times and delayed care for patients.

How will the NHI be funded?

The NHI Fund will get a large amount from general taxes. Therefore, every person in South Africa will make a contribution to the fund because we will all pay some kind of tax.

How will the NHI impact South Africans?

The NHI aims to create a more equitable healthcare system, but its success will depend on
effective implementation, stakeholder collaboration, and addressing potential challenges.

South Africans can expect changes in healthcare access, financing, and service delivery as the
NHI takes shape. Notably, in the short to medium term, NHI implementation is unlikely to
directly impact members of medical aid schemes.

Can you offer advice on how South Africans manage their future healthcare costs under the NHI?

Now that the NHI Bill has become the NHI Act, it is time to move on from debates about
whether we need NHI or not, and rather focus on how we can make the NHI work for us.

In the interim, we encourage members to consider downgrading to a hospital plan and
supplementing their coverage with a health insurance product. Additionally, we will soon
identify gaps in the NHI offering and provide a supplementary product to bridge those gaps.

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