Will S.Africa’s National Health Insurance be a success?

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Written by Ann Brown

Can South Africa’s national health insurance be successful? That is what some experts are wondering. The government is planning to implement the National Health Insurance, but some are worried  over its future success.

“We are quite advanced in finalizing the policy and the paper. We had to make sure that we consulted and followed up all the inputs we got from the green paper. Many of the stakeholders will be able to see their inputs through that National Health Insurance system,” South Africa’s deputy minister of health Gwen Ramokgopa told CNBC Africa.

“It focuses on preventative care and health promotion, because at the rate at which we’re going, there is no health system in the world that can afford four epidemics in one. It is important as South Africans to remember that the National Health Insurance system is about health, wellness, and quality.”

Medical costs in South Africa are among the highest in the world. The National Health Insurance (NHI) plan will aim to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all.

But some of the major players in the country’s private healthcare sector, including Discovery Health CEO Jonathan Broomberg, have voiced concerns over the implications the NHI might have in for the industry–much like the private health companies have done in the U.S. in concern over Obamacare.

“The devil will be in the detail. We’re all waiting very keenly to see what the white paper says. I think it’s almost inevitable in a country and in an economy like we have, that we will have a system in which the NHI builds out what we today think of as the public healthcare system,” Ramokgopa said.

“[The NHI] has to take care of the vast majority of the population and it’s going to be a work of many years to strengthen and improve outcomes quality of care.”

The National Health Insurance is expected to take between 10 to 15 years to become solid.