The National Health Insurance (‘NHI’) Bill marks a new era in South African health care, impacting every South African. A recent ASI Financial Services in partnership with Business Day Dialogues focused on the NHI Bill.

Dr Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general of NHI, believes the NHI is the urgently needed framework to deal with the current unwieldy, unproductive health care system in SA. The country’s health care system currently operates in two tiers, public and private and is unnecessarily expensive. Section 63 of the NHI Bill aims to remove all health functions from the nine provinces to one central digitised health care system while the private sector will be used to decongest public services. “Resources must be shared,” said Crisp. “It’s not either/or. It’s together.”

The first step is commitment, he said, followed by a long, hard consultative process to make it work.

Anthony Govender, chief visionary officer of ASI, agreed that collaboration between the government and the private health sector was vital if Brand SA was to succeed. A single fund, as envisaged in Section 33 of the Bill, would make commercial sense in the future, but however, a hybrid model would be best to start with, he said. “The government cannot alienate the private sector,” said Govender.

Businesses dislike change, Govender continued. They need clarity and will also need advice on the complexities of the Bill. “Start to look ahead,” he advised employers.

Collaboration and a multi-funded approach are vital, as is conviction about the future beneficial results, said Teshlin Akaloo, MD of NetcarePlus. More than half of taxpayers in SA subscribe to one of the 72 private medical aids schemes available and some level of choice needs to be retained. Netcare already offers a range of cost-effective solutions tailored to companies’ employees, centred on needs and cost, he revealed.

To advance health equity, achieve better clinical results, and improve general health cost-effectively, collaboration is vital, said Dr Stan Moloabi, Principal Officer of the Government Employees Medical Scheme (‘GEMS’). The transitional period is a time of insecurity and complexity and goals need to be clear: “What is it you want to achieve?” He advocated simplicity.

“The NHI Bill is laudable in its intent and transformation is key,” said Prelisha Singh, partner from health care-sector lead, Webber Wentzel. Both public and private healthcare systems face deep challenges and need to change. She advocated for access to universal health care to made available through public-private collaboration instead, citing reservations about the constitutionality and lawfulness of the NHI Bill.

Once written into law, there will be a framework to work within, she continued, but it will be a slow process with challenges and litigation, and implementation will be staggered.

To watch the full recording of the ASI Financial Services in partnership with Business Day Dialogues event, please visit:

Image source: Arena Events