Demand a NHI that works for the people

*Note that we have now included 160,000 names in support of an NHI that works for the people, that joined via our USSD codes, of which 3000 are detailed submissions*

You have the power to shape the NHI to deliver quality healthcare for all. But we have to act now, we only have until Friday 29th November to make our voices heard.

Minister Zweli Mkhize has presented the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill to parliament [1]. It’s a bit complicated but basically the NHI is a reform that aims to improve how healthcare resources are allocated, rather than having one system for the rich and another for the poor, like we currently do.

For example; at the moment if a domestic worker from Alexandra gets sick they will have to wait in a long line at the local public clinic, while those living in Sandton with medical aid can get on-the-spot health care. But under the NHI, there could be more funding for health, so the public clinic in Alex could have shorter waiting times because of more doctors. If the public clinic in Alex doesn’t have a specialist, the clinic could refer the domestic worker to the nearest specialist. Even if this specialist is at a private hospital in Sandton, the NHI fund will pay for this. You can learn more about the NHI here:

But how would the NHI achieve better health care for the majority?

1) Through more accountability from the public and private sector

Long waiting times, stock-outs of critical medication, shortages of equipment and staff are issues at most public clinics and hospitals. And going to a private doctor or hospital is too expensive and does not guarantee quality care. According to a Competition Commission report, even though you pay more for private healthcare, the service is less than satisfactory and is run by greedy profit maximising monopolies [2]. But the NHI could introduce new rules for all clinics and hospitals. Whether they are private or public, all would have to meet the same standard of health care. These rules could force the private health system to put people before profit. This is part of the reason medical aids don’t want the NHI because it forces them to be more accountable and makes it harder for them to overcharge us.

2) Through more resources for health

– Right now the rich have access to the majority of health resources, such as doctors, specialists, ambulances etc, through medical aids. But under the NHI health resources would be shared more equally.

– Under the NHI, everyone, rich and poor, could be registered together under the NHI fund, and have equal access to health resources. This may be another reason some of the rich don’t want the NHI as it could mean they have to access the same services as poor people.

– The NHI would be funded by the existing health budget, but also by making the rich pay more in tax, something many rich people and companies have avoided doing. That could be another reason the rich are fighting to stop the NHI.