PRETORIA - South Africans pay the highest prices in the world for medical care, second only to the mighty United States.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is on a mission to rectify this, and his weapon is the National Health Insurance (NHI).
The white paper for the controversial system was released for public comment on Friday.
The aim of the NHI is to make healthcare more equal, while abolishing high prices.
"We won't pay exorbitant pricing... the NHI is not about that it's about providing services to the population," says Motsoaledi.
It will take the form of a central fund that purchases health services from public and private hospitals.
The white paper lays out how the system will work and task teams have been set up to work out different aspects.
Funding for the ambitious scheme is still being established but is likely to come from a combination of taxes and repositioning of government funds.
Medical aids role will also be greatly altered.
The executive summary on the NHI states: "NHI will not cover everything for everyone". Medical aids will only be able to cover procedures which are not covered by the NHI and Motsoaledi has suggested that government medical aids will fall away entirely.
The fund will be governed by the NHI Commission which will be made up of experts in the relevant fields.
Motsoaledi says the private sector is already pushing back against government's attempts to rectify a broken health system, but he is determined the NHI will not fail.
The white paper is currently available on the Department of Health's website for public comment.
TRC welcomes white paper
Meanwhile, the Treatment Action Campaign has welcomed the publication of the white paper.
The TAC said it was “wonderful” that the publication of this “long-awaited” paper came just before Universal Health Coverage Day, which would be observed globally on Saturday.
The TAC supported the principles of social solidarity and risk-sharing that underpinned the NHI.
“A progressive and an effectively structured and implemented NHI [is] essential to the achievement of universal health coverage in South Africa in the medium to long-term,” said the TAC.
The TAC emphasised the importance of ensuring that the right people were appointed to the right positions, as this, together with a “very strong political will to deal openly and effectively with the dysfunction in our public healthcare system”, would enable the NHI to succeed.
- Additional Reporting African News Agency.
Read the NHI white paper in the window below.