CAPE TOWN - It’s been a lukewarm reception for the National Insurance Bill in Parliament.
Opposition parties have raised concerns over affordability, sustainability and the current state of the country’s public health services.
It’s the first time the bill has come under discussion by MPs since being tabled by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize three weeks ago.
Mkhize says not introducing universal health insurance now will be a lost opportunity.
Opposition parties believe the state is biting off more than it can chew.
They say the NHI is unaffordable and the current state of health services will defeat the purpose.
But Mkhize says NHI can actually help grow the economy.
“Once you improve access to health you end up with a situation where more citizens can contribute to the wellbeing of the country," he said.
"It’s a stimulant for economic growth.”
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The health department has also sought to allay concerns that the bill is legally flawed.
It’s working closely with Treasury on how it will fund the NHI.