Medical aids as we know them will disappear by 2026 under the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill released today.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize unveiled the bill today in Pretoria. Under the NHI, the government will provide a package of comprehensive health services for free at private and public health facilities as part of its bid to more equitable access to quality healthcare.
Medical aids will eventually be relegated to providing top-up cover under the NHI – or coverage for procedures or treatment that fall outside government’s package of care. The government will, in turn, become the single largest purchaser of health services in the country, buying them from accredited private and public facilities with a centralised NHI Fund.
The commission found that not only were consumers paying more for less when it came to private healthcare but that the array of packages made it impossible for people to compare offerings between schemes. Standardising a basic option ahead of the NHI will likely cut down confusion, the commission said in its preliminary report, but would not necessarily address high costs.
The health department expects the final NHI Act to come into effect before March 2020, according to its latest annual performance plan.