Today's Labour News

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ramaphosa2BL Premium reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law, setting in motion the government’s fiercely contested plan for universal health coverage.

“The NHI is a commitment to eradicating the stark inequalities that have long determined who receives adequate healthcare and who suffers from neglect. The financial hurdles facing the NHI can be navigated with careful planning, strategic resource allocation and a steadfast commitment to achieving equity,” he said at a signing ceremony on Wednesday. The signing prompted immediate legal challenges from trade union Solidarity and civil rights organisation AfriForum. The DA, organisations representing healthcare professionals, and industry bodies for medical schemes have indicated they too intend to litigate. While signing the bill was politically significant for the ANC, it does not immediately change the status quo as none of the mechanisms required to implement the ambitious scheme have come into effect. Medical schemes will, for now, continue to provide cover for private healthcare services, and patients will be required to pay out of pocket for private care if they are uninsured. Health minister Joe Phaahla urged medical scheme members to retain their cover, saying NHI would take time to implement. Under NHI, a government-controlled fund will purchase services for all patients from public and private providers. Medical schemes will be banned from covering services provided by the fund. The next step will be for sections of the bill to be proclaimed by the President. The government will need to establish the governance structure for the NHI Fund, accredit service providers and register beneficiaries before it can start providing free services to patients under the scheme. It will also need to introduce measures for financing the fund, which have yet to be determined.

  • Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tamar Kahn & Tauriq Moosa at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)
  • Read too, Legal storm brews over the NHI Act, at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)

Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page