Thursday, 13 June, 2024
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Business plea to keep medical aids under NHI

Business Unity SA (Busa) pleaded with the government at the Summit to allow medical schemes to continue operating under National Health Insurance (NHI), to ensure the private healthcare sector remains viable and reduces the load on public health facilities.

Section 33 of the NHI Bill says that once NHI is fully implemented, medical schemes may provide only complementary cover for services not covered by the fund.

“We propose… some flexibility to this section, to enable a multi-payer, multi-provider system,” Busa executive Stavros Nicolaou told Business Day.

“This is not a selfish request to maintain the status quo. We would not want anything in the Bill that weakens either the public or private sector.”

Busa acknowledged the problems with the private healthcare sector, and suggested the government implement the recommendations of the Competition Commission’s health market inquiry.

Nicolaou said Busa supported reforms to widen medical scheme membership to employed people who could not afford cover, which could be achieved with the low-cost benefit option framework being developed by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS). This would lighten the burden on struggling public health facilities, which are buckling beneath the weight of a growing population and budget cuts.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla admitted the scope of problems affecting the quality of care in the public healthcare sector, saying the challenges went beyond budget constraints. “Millions of people receive acceptable services in public health facilities (and) there are even pockets of excellence. But … these are drowned out by the negative experiences,” he said.

“Many … could perform better if it was not for inefficiency, poor management, neglect of duty due to poor supervision and unfortunately even outright corruption.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s special adviser on social policy, Olive Shisana, urged the government to escalate its work on new procurement laws and buy local products, saying it would help tackle the “policy misalignment” that recently saw state-backed vaccine manufacturer Biovac lose a key contract to a rival importing the goods from India.

The health summits convened by President Cyril Ramaphosa highlight the importance he has attached to fixing the sector’s problems.

Medical scheme membership remains out of reach for most people: only 8.95m people could afford premiums in 2021, out of a population of about 60m, said the CMS.

Most people depend entirely on the crumbling public health system to cover their needs.


Business Day PressReader article – Keep medical aid under NHI – Busa (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Tussle over medical schemes’ role could undermine NHI roll-out – NGO research


HPCSA’s presentation on medical schemes’ role in NHI was ‘incoherent’


Brickbats and bouquets for NHI and Medical Schemes Bills


NHI set to close 29 medical schemes


Medical schemes’ NHI transition will take ‘years to decades’ – Crisp







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