SA will not be reckless in implementing national health insurance - Ramaphosa
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's government will not be reckless in implementing national health insurance, but will rather apply it in an incremental manner until the entire country is covered by 2025, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.
The government says the National Health Insurance Bill published last year aims to provide equitable quality health services for all South Africans.
Reception has been mixed, with critics saying it is an underhanded way for the government to nationalise health care and will have disastrous effects.
On Monday, Ramaphosa said public hearings held around the country had showed overall support for the government plan.
"Participants have made a number of proposals and have spoken about their views on National Health Insurance, personal experiences of illness, trauma, disability and suffering – and the difficulties they have had in accessing health care when they need it," he said in a weekly newsletter.
"It is these experiences that inform South Africa’s support for the global goal of universal health coverage."
Deliberations by Parliament on the NHI Bill would soon enter a new phase as the public hearings conducted by the portfolio committee on health wrapped up, he said.
Ramaphosa said it was a travesty that access to decent and quality health care services was determined by one’s ability to pay.
"South Africa has two parallel health care systems. Around R250 billion is spent annually on less than 20 percent of the population. This is the section of our population that has access to private medical insurance. On the other hand our country spends R220 billion on rest of the population," he said.
"This flies in the face of the Constitutional right of access to health care for all citizens regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances. It is a situation that cannot continue. It is inefficient and unsustainable. It is unfair and unjust."
The introduction of national health insurance would be among the most far-reaching acts of social transformation South Africa had experienced since the advent of democracy in 1994, the president said.
The country had enough resources to enable every man, woman and child to receive appropriate standardised quality health care, he added, calling on non-governmental organisations, community organisations and civil society to rally around the NHI in the same way they had in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
"I call on the private sector to join government in seeing the NHI realised. To transform the health care landscape to make it more efficient, cost-effective and value for money requires that we forge strong public-private partnerships for the delivery of services," said Ramaphosa.
"We will not be reckless in implementing the NHI. We will implement it in an incremental fashion and aim to cover the whole country by 2025."
African News Agency (ANA)