In South Africa, there have been unequal opportunities regarding health care and its access. Since the apartheid, many black Africans have been unable to access private health care or health care facilities. Based on a 2020 study specifically, out of 80% of Black Africans in South Africa, only 8.1% had access to private medical insurance in 2013. However, the government passed a new National Health Care Insurance bill in South Africa to be established by 2026 to address the inequalities and health care disparities.
What is the New National Health Care Insurance?
The new National Health Care Insurance in South Africa aims to ensure every citizen has access to health care services in the private and public spheres. Employers and workers would both contribute to funding the insurance. The current public health care system would provide the resources needed for the new health care system including doctors and clinics. All private medical aids and hospitals would be removed and the government would reform the public health care infrastructure. The South African National Department of Health would be responsible for hiring the leadership to conduct the insurance and additional positions would be created to ensure the process runs smoothly. It will be implemented in phases with phase one consisting of the following:
- strengthening the current health care systems
- establishing the National Health Care Insurance legislation
- building the foundational institutions for the insurance to be implemented
- include personal health care services for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and those with disabilities
Controversy Among the Citizens
Some citizens are hesitant about the new National Health Care Insurance in South Africa. The PwC, a firm that offers business advising services, conducted a survey where 31 chief officers from South African medical organizations were asked questions about the new insurance system. The survey showed that only 50% of the officers thought the insurance would be successful in addressing the concerns with the current health care system. Some topics that the officers were especially concerned about were:
- the type of coverage and benefits that will be available to the public
- the structure of the government
- corruption and if that will affect the new insurance
- how many health care workers the infrastructure can hold
- how public insurance will affect the private sector
Other controversy surrounds the infringement on South Africa’s Bill of Rights. The bill would require the citizens to have National Health Care Insurance regardless of their desire to have it. With this insurance, citizens could not obtain other private health care insurance, which the Board of Healthcare Funders of South Africa says is a violation of Section 27 of the South African Bill of Rights.
A Look Ahead
The new National Health Care Insurance in South Africa can help ensure all citizens have equal access to affordable health care. While there are many benefits to the insurance, citizens are still skeptical about if it will meet their needs. Time will tell if there will be a difference in how many people can access health care in South Africa and if the health care disparities from the current health care system will disappear.
– Janae O’Connell