Mixed reactions on NHI and health insurance company wants to collaborate to implement a 'balanced health coverage system'

Mixed reactions on NHI as health insurance company says it will collaborate to implement a 'balanced health coverage system'.

Mixed reactions on NHI as health insurance company says it will collaborate to implement a 'balanced health coverage system'.

Published May 21, 2024


There have been mixed reactions since President Cyril Ramaphosa officially signed the NHI Bill into law on May 15.

Affinity Health, a health insurance company, expressed enthusiastic support for the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, emphasising its commitment to working with the government to achieve a balanced health coverage system.

Chief executive of Affinity Health, Murray Hewlett, commended the landmark legislation as a key step towards universal health coverage (UHC), which guarantees fair access to quality healthcare for all South Africans, regardless of socio-economic background.

“Everyone, irrespective of their identity or location, is entitled to healthcare. The right to health is anchored in our Constitution under Section 27, which guarantees every individual the right to access healthcare services, including reproductive health services. Despite these provisions, the realisation of the right to healthcare remains uneven across South Africa,” said Hewlett.

Hewlett went on to say that the NHI Bill signals a significant transformation in the healthcare environment.

“It addresses long-standing disparities and aims to improve the overall quality of healthcare while reducing the burden on our public health facilities. We are fully committed to supporting this transformation and ensuring the sustainability and effectiveness of both public and private health systems.”

Conversely, the chief executive of Discovery, Adrian Gore said that the Bill is flawed. He said the NHI Bill was faulty, and considering the amount of predicted court issues, it may take decades to implement.

“We see no scenario in which there is sufficient funding for a workable and comprehensive NHI in its current form, hence our conviction that private sector collaboration is vital, and that full implementation of the bill remains a long way off, likely decades,” Gore said.

Hewlett said that it is important to understand the Bill and that President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to build the NHI Fund as the foundation of a unified health system that ensures universal health coverage for everybody.

The South African Health Professionals Collaboration (SAHPC) may launch a legal challenge against the National Health Insurance Bill.

The SAHPC is an organisation representing over 25,000 medical, dental, private and public sector healthcare workers. They expressed disappointment that the president was signed the bill into law.

Dr Simon Strachan, the SAHPC spokesperson, said their suggestions and ideas have been overlooked by Ramaphosa and that they had no doubt that the NHI Bill would be challenged in the courts.

They too, he said, were exploring the possibility of challenging the bill legally in court.

“SAPHC also believes its members’ concerns and recommendations throughout the parliamentary process were systematically ignored, raising serious questions about the fairness and effectiveness of the democratic process," said Strachan.

“SAHPC members, representing a diverse array of healthcare specialities, have consistently advocated for policies that prioritise the well-being of patients and ensure the sustainability of the country’s healthcare system.”