Phaahla shines light on National Health Insurance Bill

19 Jun 2023

The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is designed to “create the legal framework and foundation for the noble aims embodied in the Freedom Charter and our Constitution”.

The health minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, declared this during the second reading debate on the bill in the national assembly (NA) this week.

The NA gave the green light to the bill and sent it to the national council of provinces for concurrence.

The minister described the bill as “one of the most revolutionary pieces of legislation presented to this House since the dawn of democracy”.

He pointed out that, despite a number of progressive policies having been passed since 1994 such as free health services for pregnant women and children under 6 years, fee free services at primary health care facilities and access to reproductive health services including the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, government has not been so successful in avoiding the “replacement of race-based differentiation of access and quality by a class-based differentiation”.

“As inequality has been growing in our country even cutting across race, access to quality health services has been a casualty with those who have private medical insurance consuming 51% of the national spending while constituting only 16% of the population, while 84% depend on 49% resources from the fiscus and services provided by Public Health System only”, he said.

According to the minister, the NHI aims to “stop the two trains, i.e. Private Health and Public Health traveling on parallel tracks but both surely going toward crashing while if they can be pooled together there is good chance of complementing each other”.

The select committee on health and social services will process the bill.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

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