NHI requires R600bn to be implemented

Economist Dawie Roodt alleges South African government lacked money to successfully implement NHI in the country. Photograph: Supplied AfriForum

Economist Dawie Roodt alleges South African government lacked money to successfully implement NHI in the country. Photograph: Supplied AfriForum

Published May 7, 2024


THE only hope for the country’s healthcare system is through the overall privatisation of the South African health industry, says economist Dawie Roodt.

He said privatisation would be the only workable alternative to government’s proposed NHI bill.

Speaking at the civil society group, AfriForum’s NHI conference in Pretoria recently, Roodt said that forging ahead with the NHI was an unattainable ideal as the government lacked what it took to successfully implement the plan.

Instead, the economist proposed that legislation be introduced to make membership of a medical aid compulsory for all South Africans.

While existing aid members would be able to continue with the membership unhindered, he added that the rest of the population, following the privatisation of all medical services in the state, be grouped into one of three private funds to gain access to private healthcare.

Roodt said funding for this could then be drawn from the government’s healthcare budget, which he alleged was currently being pumped into struggling or dysfunctional hospitals or clinics.

Unity Health’s CEO Vernon Chorn questioned the feasibility of NHI and dangers of its implementation, especially given South Africa’s ageing population, resulting in many elderly no longer contributing to the country’s GDP after retirement.

“The NHI simply will not survive under the current projections, as it requires a significant amount of approximately R600 billion to be successfully implemented. There is no way to raise this amount without raising taxes and this will ultimately result in a weaker GDP, ” Chorn added.

Louis Boshoff, AfriForum’s campaign officer, said the purpose of gathering those within the health sector to weigh-in and provide workable alternatives to the NHI once more, comes after growing concerns of its implementation after president Cyril Ramaphosa renewed his commitment to sign the bill into law soon.

Boshoff said from 2019, AfriForum had launched a total of 53 campaigns against the adoption of NHI, with all the relevant legal channels followed to oppose it.

He further added that should the president sign the bill, the organisation would not hesitate to challenge it in court.

“There are several scenarios that can result from the implementation of NHI, therefore it is important to be fully prepared for all the possibilities. AfriForum is still optimistic that the NHI Bill can be stopped through public pressure and lawsuits, but South Africans must still be prepared should a healthcare crisis be brought about by NHI,” Boshoff added.

Since the inception of the proposal of the NHI a number of independent organisations including the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), The Board of Healthcare Funders and a handful of medical aids have joined AfriForum in raising concerns about the implementation and feasibility of the bill which aims to provide universal access to quality health care services in South Africa.

While it was approved by South Africa's National Assembly on June 13, 2023, it is yet to receive the final nod of approval from the president.