Experts raise concerns that Covid-19 shifts focus away from NHI
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DURBAN - MEDICAL experts and stakeholders are concerned about the Health Department not placing the concept of implementing a universal health-care system that funds all of South Africa and its financing at the forefront of health discussions.
Phumelele Makatini, chief executive and principal officer of the Building and Construction Industry Medical Aid Fund (BCIMA), told The Mercury that the medical aid was concerned that the Covid-19 pandemic had hogged the spotlight and taken attention away from the implementation of the national health insurance (NHI) and important discussions around it.
Makatini said the government should not lose the momentum of having the attention of all stakeholders.
She commended the Council for Medical Schemes for not just looking at the medical scheme market’s sustainability, but felt it had forced the industry to be transparent about how it determined benefit options and made provisions for prescribed minimum benefit options.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel because the regulator is doing its work.
“The government must lead by example in the discussion of National Health Insurance (NHI). Although we know that the government cannot afford NHI, the issue must come back as a priority discussion. By 2025, we could have other pandemics that we have to prepare for as a collective health-care industry.”
Dr Ntuthuthuko Bhengu, founder of Alchemy Health Technologies, a health data management company, agreed that he was concerned that Covid-19 had caused NHI discussions to be delayed.
Bhengu, who was a panellist on the Competition Health Market Inquiry into high prices and the competitive nature of private health care in the country, said the pandemic had showed that the system should always be ready for the unexpected.
“Even now we still have no guidance on a proper working system that unifies both the public and private health-care system.”