SA marching toward universal health care

South Africa is marching toward universal health care‚ with the White Paper on National Health Insurance to be gazetted on Friday paving the way for adoption by parliament, writes Sipho Mabena .

The NHI is a health financing scheme that seeks to ensure all citizens have access to quality healthcare regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution to the fund.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi released the White Paper in Pretoria on Thursday‚ saying there has been an outcry on funding for the massive health care transition.

He said government already‚ without the NHI‚ had the capacity to pool funds which gave it buying power and advantage in negotiating pricing.

The minister said a single dose of Human papillomavirus vaccine‚ given to 9-year-old girls at schools cost R730 in the private health care sector but the government was paying R116.

He said the private sector charges R2‚394 for the subdermal implant‚ which prevents pregnancy‚ whilst government paid R116 for the same device.

“Why is this possible? It is because we have the power of pooling funds‚ we go to the company and say we give you 500‚000 school girls for life so we are not going to buy your vaccine with that much‚” he said.

Motsoaledi said in the private sector‚ medical male circumcision costs R7‚000 but government was able to do the procedure for R850.

Health department director-general Precious Matsoso said the implementation approach for the radical scheme was based on four pillars: financing‚ provision‚ governance and regulation.

She said this was reform for both the public and the private sector.

“In the public sector we are going to restructure the way we do public financing‚ the way equitable share is allocated and establish cost base budgets for hospitals and introduce clinic budgets‚” Matsoso said.

She said in the private sector‚ they were going to start the regulation of prices by setting up a pricing advisory body.

“On the provision side‚ in the public sector‚ we are going to prioritise school health‚ maternal‚ child care‚ mental health‚ disability and rehabilitation and also the expansion of service benefits and the implementation of primary health care services through our clinics‚” Matsoso said.

In the private sector‚ she said‚ a single benefit scheme will be introduced‚

“We have already engaged the medical aid schemes and administrators to start looking at how do they move from multiple benefits towards a single scheme‚ to align it with the service benefit package that we are proposing‚” she added.

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