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Comment Sought on National Health Insurance Bill

August 30, 2019

Parliament

30 August 2019

Parliament has called for comment on the National Health Insurance Bill.

The bill was tabled in parliament earlier this month.

It aims to:


• achieve universal access to quality health care services in the Republic in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution;
• establish a National Health Insurance Fund and to set out its powers, functions and governance structures;
• provide a framework for the strategic purchasing of health care services by the Fund on behalf of users;
• create mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient utilisation of the resources of the Fund to meet the health needs of the population;
• preclude or limit undesirable, unethical and unlawful practices in relation to the Fund and its users; and
• provide for matters connected herewith.

The bill flows from the National Health Insurance (NHI) White Paper, published in June 2017.

It sets out government’s proposals to put a universal health coverage system in place.

The NHI aims to pool funds to provide access to quality and affordable health services for all South Africans based on their health needs and irrespective of their socio-economic status.

The NHI Fund will purchase health care services for all users who are registered with the Fund.

The White Paper focused on structural problems in the health sector, the burden of disease, the rationale and benefits of NHI, NHI coverage, organisation of the health care system and services under the NHI, financing of NHI, purchasing of health services and phased implementation.

The portfolio committee on health seeks comment on the bill until 11 October 2019.

Meanwhile, the committee was briefed by the health department this week on the bill.

According to a statement, the Office of the State Law Advisor informed the committee that the bill is constitutionally sound.

“We are therefore satisfied that Parliament, in passing the proposed legislation, would not be acting capriciously and arbitrarily, in violation of the rule of law, thereby rendering such legislation inconsistent with the Constitution,” said a representative of the office, Ayesha Johaar.

With regard to the appointment of the Board, the minister of health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said “things that are procedurally correct and which have been benchmarked internationally make South Africans nervous, because of various issues in the public domain”.

The health minister also pointed out that the NHI pilot project evaluation report will be made available to the committee.

The department indicated that “once the NHI is fully implemented, the Minister will introduce regulations limiting medical scheme benefits to services that are not reimbursable by the fund”.

As regards health care to asylum seekers or illegal migrants, the department emphasized that the bill makes it clear that emergency services, health care for notifiable conditions and basic health services for children will be provided.

“The department noted that the constitution is unequivocal that no one may be refused emergency medical healthcare.”