Home Opinion and Features How much will the NHI cost SA?

How much will the NHI cost SA?

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The other key area that would allow for the roll-out of NHI, is the employment of more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals

New Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Photo: GCIS.

The government is sticking to its plans to implement National Health Insurance, with questions still being asked on the funding and costing of the programme.

The pilot projects were introduced in 2012, but the opposition parties have said these sites have not produced the desired results. But Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has said the NHI Bill is now on the way.

The Cabinet endorsed the bill at its meeting in Cape Town last Wednesday.

Mkhize said, without getting into the details about the bill, it would outline key areas of universal coverage.

Several countries, including the UK, Japan, France, and other EU countries, have universal coverage.

Mkhize said part of the NHI Bill will include the revamping of decaying hospitals across the country. The government has set aside billions of rand to upgrade infrastructure.

The other key area that would allow for the roll-out of NHI, is the employment of more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.

Health is already one of the largest expenditure items in the budget. But more funds would have to be thrown in, to allow for the roll-out of NHI.

Mkhize has said that the National Treasury is working on the funding model and costing for NHI. It will take time before the full details are known.

The National Treasury has already provided funding, for setting up a structure or entity, to run the NHI full time. But this will be a team of professionals to oversee the programme.

Mkhize has said 30 managers from districts are going to Japan, and other countries, in the next four weeks to be trained on the NHI.

The government insists the cost of medical care is beyond the reach of poor communities, and it needs to have quality universal coverage for all South Africans.

Mkhize’s predecessor, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, had said it would take 14 years to fully roll out NHI in the country. But Mkhize has not yet indicated the timeline for the full implementation of the programme.

The battle lines still lie ahead, on how the government will fund it and the total cost.