The ANC government wants to “ban” medical aids in its current format when its planned National Health Insurance (NHI) service kicks in.This is according to a Rapport article (Verbied siekefondse), citing a leaked letter which the Treasury wrote to Olive Shishana, head of the government’s NHI war room.
This, the newspaper said, is a turnaround from the National Health Insurance Bill which was released for public comment in July – which stated that medical aids would continue to operate as normal.
The new version of the NHI Bill, which according to the leaked letter was already sent to the cabinet for approval, does not support medical aids in their current format.
Rapport said the new version contains a clause which prevents medical aids or any other voluntary private health insurance scheme covering anything which is offered through the NHI.
This is to make sure the NHI “achieves its objectives” and will “eliminate the fragmentation of health care funding”.The clause in the bill which is behind this report is provided below.
“NHI shenanigans exposed” – Spotlight
Spotlight, which is published by Section27 and the Treatment Action Campaign, said the NHI Bill has been changed without consultation and agreed upon changes were not implemented.
Spotlight said Shisana and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi have sidelined Department of Health and Treasury officials in preparing a new version of the bill for submission to Cabinet.
“The Treasury letter highlights an amended provision stating that the role of medical schemes will only be complementary to the fund,” Spotlight said.
“Medical schemes will thus not be allowed to offer services already offered through NHI”.
According to the Treasury letter, such a provision is “highly premature given that it will take years for the fund to be meaningfully offering services equivalent to those existing 8.8 million current medical scheme users access from the private sector”.
“This section is unnecessary at this point and will be perceived as extremely threatening to existing medical scheme users and tax payers, to the entire private health sector, and will undermine investment.”
“This section will almost certainly bog the bill down in endless legal challenges and should be deleted,” the Treasury letter states.