The Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) welcomes the release of the green paper on a National Health Insurance (NHI) system released by Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsaoledi.
“We acknowledge the challenges facing South Africa’s health system, and the Department’s intention to ensure that all South Africans have access to affordable, quality healthcare services regardless of their socio-economic status,” says HASA Chairman, Dr Nkaki Matlala.
“We now have a document that sets out at a high level where we are headed,” adds Matlala. “Obviously, more details need to be provided in some areas, but it is a pragmatic document that for the first time in 80 years, is a step towards achieving universal healthcare coverage.”
Matlala says HASA welcomes the opportunity for broader engagement on the NHI. “We look forward to working with government to find ways to help make quality healthcare accessible to more South Africans.”
Too little time to comment?
HASA does however feel that, given the extensive and lengthy time taken by government in the development of this paper, the public consultation period of only three months appears unusually short for necessary and valuable input from the general public and civil society stakeholders.
He says the green paper recognised many of the challenges facing the public sector, including improving quality of care and number of skilled health professionals to deliver the required services.
Matlala points out that while the green paper said private healthcare costs had increased 121% over between 2001 and 2009, this should be contextualised against the backdrop of contributions to public healthcare increasing by more than 100% over the same period. “Even the price of bread had increased 111% over the decade,” says Matlala. “We have to face up to the fact that the cost of living has gone up, including healthcare.”
He says there was an opportunity for hospitals to contract to the NHI, although cost agreements would obviously need to be determined.
“We are encouraged by the opportunity to engage with government on the NHI and help make the vision of universal coverage a reality,” he says.