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JOHANNESBURG - The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, South Africa's universal healthcare plan, would have a negative impact on the economy in the long run, the Freedom Front Plus said on Tuesday

FF Plus MP Phillip van Staden said the share price of the country's largest medical aid scheme in the country, Discovery Group, fell after Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's pronouncements on the NHI Bill last week.

"The FF Plus' foreboding that the NHI will have an extremely negative impact on South Africa's economy already seems to be coming true. One clear indication of this is that when the NHI Bill was tabled in Parliament last week Thursday, the Discovery Group's shares fell with 8.5% to R115.47 right after the minister's announcement. Yesterday [Monday], the group's shares fell with another 8.4% and closed at R105,72, the lowest since 2014," Van Staden said in a statement.

"Thus, the NHI Bill is already having a detrimental effect on South Africa's economy and the FF Plus is worried that the economy will suffer great damage due to this new notion of nationalising the country's health care services."

The long-awaited NHI Bill, which aims to contain the cost of comprehensive public health care by prioritising primary and preventative medical services, was tabled in Parliament last week. 

It has since drawn criticism from medical professionals and opposition parties who said government was not in a position to roll out universal healthcare as the country's public health system was in a crisis. Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane on Tuesday said his party would fight the enacting of the bill all the way to the Constitutional Court.

Van Staden said unemployment will rise at the country's 80 medical aid companies whose functioning would be restricted.

"On top of that, many specialised medical professionals will opt to leave the country and that will have a further negative impact on our economy.Government's attempt to nationalise health care services and take full control of the administration and management thereof will mean that South Africa's NHI will simply follow in the footsteps of Eskom, Transnet, Denel, the SABC and many more. The NHI will merely make it easier to steal taxpayers' money."

African News Agency (ANA)