Concerns about economy lead to NHI scepticism

Scepticism of the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme is not a reaction against change, but shows concern about its impact on the wider economy, consultancy Frost & Sullivan said on Wednesday.

This followed Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi’s suggestion in Parliament on Tuesday that those who were sceptical about the proposed NHI were against change and had no interest in the well-being and security of patients.

“Sceptics of the proposed NHI have been concerned about two major issues: the source of finance and human capital,” Frost & Sullivan’s healthcare analyst Lizelle Wentzel said in a statement.

“At the moment, South Africa doesn’t have enough of either.”

She said government had not yet outlined the steps it would take to address this.

“Minister Motsoaledi also mentioned that the NHI would not be implemented in isolation, but that there would be an assessment of current health institutions before they will be used in the NHI system.

“This however, only raises more questions.”

She said an accreditation system sounded “great in theory”, but it had to take into account the current reality.

“A process of facility accreditation will require a body with both financial and human capital to perform the task.

“However, nothing has been forthcoming on how long this will take, how it will be performed or what the criteria will be,” she

It also raised questions about what would happen to the institutions that did not pass the test to provide healthcare under the NHI umbrella.

“South Africa can hardly afford fewer healthcare facilities,” Wentzel said.

The list of questions about NHI was “simply too long” at the moment.

“The industry’s concerns are not founded in a desire to derail change, but rather to ensure that the process of change is handled in a way that results in the greatest possible benefit.”

Wentzel said sceptics were looking for clarity on these questions.

“Vitally, clear plans for how the NHI will be funded and how the current skills base will support it must be provided before anything else.”

She warned against rushing the implementation of NHI.

“If the industry is engaged properly and the challenges are correctly understood and addressed, transformation of the healthcare industry can only be in everyone’s best interests,” Wentzel said.

“What the sector doesn’t want is a system that is set up for failure because it is rushed into place prematurely.” — Sapa

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