A view from Dr Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health, on the National Health Insurance Bill and the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill

Our initial reflection on the proposed NHI system outlined in the Bill, is that it is pragmatic and workable. The Bill proposes the establishment of the NHI Fund and its associated governance and advisory structures. It indicates that for the next several years (at least until 2022), the NHI Fund will focus on funding critically-needed services for defined vulnerable groups, including school children, the elderly, mental health patients and cancer patients.

One of the critical elements of the NHI system will be the benefits it provides. The Bill provides no detail on these benefits, and these details are expected to be developed through a Benefits Advisory Committee, which will be appointed by the Minister of Health; and who will develop proposals for the NHI Benefits over the next few years. The Bill indicates that in order to qualify for NHI benefits at no cost, patients will need to follow the NHI’s referral pathways and use its contracted providers. Those patients who elect not to do so, will not be able to claim from NHI, and will be able to fund their services directly, or via medical schemes or other forms of health insurance. This is an important point – as it confirms that medical schemes will continue to exist alongside the NHI system and that patients with medical scheme cover will retain freedom of choice in which doctors and hospitals they wish to use. This also makes it clear that for an extended period into the future, it will be critical for employers to make provision for the healthcare of their employees, either through a medical scheme, or through a primary care product that provides adequate day-to-day cover for employees and their dependents.

The Bill provides no detail on the funding of the NHI system, as this is a function of the National Treasury. In our view, funding for NHI will remain constrained for the foreseeable future, due to the weak macro-economic conditions in the country, and the other fiscal pressures on government. In the last Budget speech, the Minister of Finance allocated R4.2 billion to the NHI Fund for the 2018 to 2020 period. This will be used to fund the high-priority services outlined above.
The National Department of Health recently issued a tender for medical scheme administrators to act as Clinical Care Service Providers. These service providers will purchase defined high-priority services for defined vulnerable groups under an interim NHI fund mechanism
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    Posted March 30, 2017 3:05 pm 0Likes

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    • Martin Moore
      Posted March 30, 2017 3:08 pm 0Likes

      I like the website and the way the information is presented. Thanks for interesting and timely updates!

      • Miki Williams
        Posted March 30, 2017 3:23 pm 0Likes

        Please stay tuned for more updates

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