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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Medical aids welcome NHI ‘on initial review’

The Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa said it is committed to the NHI as a vehicle to deliver universal health coverage.

The healthcare industry in South Africa yesterday welcomed government introducing National Health Insurance (NHI), with Discovery Health chief executive Jonathan Broomberg describing the publication of the NHI Bill and the establishment of the NHI Fund as “a big step towards the achievement of universal healthcare for all South Africans”.

The NHI seeks to ensure every South African has access to public and private healthcare without prejudice, according to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Broomberg said: “The inequalities in access to quality healthcare are a major concern for all South Africans.

“Based on our initial review of the NHI Bill, we are supportive of the general approach taken, including the fact that medical schemes will continue to operate alongside the NHI.

“We are also supportive of the various governance and advisory mechanisms established.

“The draft Medical Schemes Amendment Bill contains numerous complex amendments to the Medical Schemes Act. We are still studying the details of the draft Bill and will provide more detail on our views as soon as possible.”

The Bill has also received a boost from the Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa (BHF), which said it supported progress made “to accelerate efforts towards action to enable NHI implementation”.

The BHF represents 45 medical aid schemes, administrators and managed-care organisations in South Africa and an additional 23 in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland.

“As an industry representative body, we support the intention and action aimed at ensuring the greater population of the country receives quality healthcare,” said chairperson Ali Hamdulay.

“We are committed to the NHI as a vehicle that will enable the country to achieve universal health coverage, not just for the 8.9 million covered in private healthcare but the 56 million of our entire population.

“We will continue to engage the minister on a practical and judicious approach to NHI; and seek guidance on where we can contribute towards enabling its success,” said Hamdulay.

“The private healthcare sector cannot stand by and think it won’t be affected should the public sector suffer.

“Some schemes use state institutions for designated service providers and our entire healthcare workforce is trained through academic and public institutions.

“It is therefore imperative that the private sector collaborates closely with the department of health and shares their views, insights and knowledge to positively shape the healthcare landscape,” Hamdulay said.

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