Understanding THE NHI
Bona|April 2020
You have probably heard about the National Health Insurance (NHI), with some people in favour and others opposing it. This is in keeping with international healthcare systems. Countries such as France and Canada have already implemented it. But, some of the details of how it will work remain unclear. Everson Luhanga investigates.
Everson Luhanga

The Constitution states that access to healthcare services (including reproductive) is a basic right. But, the majority of the population still faces serious challenges mainly caused by a skewed healthcare financing system. The government is now saying without NHI, the costs of healthcare will continue to rise while inequality in the access to quality care continues to deepen.

WHAT IS NHI?

The NHI is a financing system that will make sure that you, as a South African citizen, are provided with quality healthcare, regardless of your employment status or ability to pay for health services. It is underpinned by the principle of social solidarity where we cross-subsidise one another to ensure that everyone gets the same quality of healthcare.

HOW IT WILL AFFECT YOU

All Amogelang Tladi (38) wants is to walk into a hospital or clinic and receive help from professional staff. “If the NHI also deals with the poor behaviour or treatment from some nurses in public hospitals, then I am happy to have it implemented,” she says. Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize says under the NHI, there won’t be a difference between public and private facilities in the look, feel, quality of care and staff attitude. “This is because it will only contract with facilities that have been accredited by the Office of Health Standards Compliance. All facilities, whether public or private, will be checked for quality. The NHI will also pay your healthcare bills. There won’t be any issues with lost files anymore.” Dr Zweli adds that your details will come up anywhere you consult. “You’ll just need to provide your ID or NHI card. If you are seriously ill or injured, all that will be needed is your fingerprint. The working conditions in the public health sector will improve with more doctors and nurses, clean clinics and hospitals, available equipment and no medicine stock-outs.” He says the service offering will range from primary healthcare to specialised tertiary and quaternary levels of treatment.

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