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NHI to be introduced ‘incrementally’ – Phaahla

The National Health Insurance (NHI) is not going to happen “at full blast”, and medical schemes will continue to cover aspects not being covered by the NHI at the introductory level.

That’s according to Health Minister Joe Phaahla, who said the government planned to implement the NHI “incrementally”, reports BusinessLive.

The role of medical schemes in funding private health-care services would be phased out gradually, he told delegates at a virtual event hosted by medical scheme administrator Momentum Health Solutions on Tuesday.

“NHI is not going to be something that happens at (one) go,” Phaahla said.

The Bill is currently before parliament, and if approved, will be referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

Phaahla’s comments, consistent with remarks he made to parliament in its recent public hearings on the NHI Bill, may provide some reassurance to the R219bn medical scheme industry.

The role of medical schemes is one of the most contentious aspects of the Bill. Section 33 says when NHI is “fully implemented”, medical schemes will be prohibited from providing cover for services reimbursable by the NHI. But section 8 says those who choose their own healthcare providers instead of using the NHI “referral pathway” will not be funded by the NHI, but will be able to claim from medical schemes or health insurers.

Momentum Health Solutions chief marketing officer Damian McHugh said it could take years, perhaps as long as a decade, for NHI to complete the implementation of primary healthcare cover.

During this time, medical schemes would continue to provide cover for secondary and tertiary services.

Last month, delegates at the Board of Healthcare Funders annual conference heard that more than two-thirds of the parties submitting comments on the Bill raised concern about the constitutionality of the provisions making it unlawful for people to purchase healthcare services that are covered by the NHI fund.


Business Day PressReader article – Phaahla says NHI will be delivered step by step (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Strong support for curbs to Health Minister’s powers in proposed NHI


Submissions: NHI Bill has serious constitutional and human rights implications


NHI: Leave it to me, Ramaphosa tells SA’s healthcare leaders


Health Funders Association position statement on National Health Insurance Bill




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