Cabinet has approved the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill of 2018 to be published in the Government Gazette for public comments.

A key provision of the bill will be the establishment of an NHI fund to pay for health services so that all South Africans have access to quality care.

“The bill seeks to establish the NHI Fund of South Africa, as a public entity, so as to provide for a sustained universal health access that is affordable and of high quality. It also sets out its functions, powers and duties,” said Cabinet in a statement.

The bill provides a framework for the active purchasing of healthcare services by the fund on behalf of users and creates mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient use of the resources of the fund to meet the health needs of users.

Government began piloting NHI in 2011 with the aim of establishing a single, compulsory medical scheme for all, with private medical schemes being reduced to offering complementary services.

According to government, all citizens and permanent residents will be covered by NHI, while a special fund will be set up for refugees. Documented asylum seekers will be able to access emergency care and everyone else will need medical insurance.

NHI is being introduced in three phases, starting with preparing central hospitals to provide specialised services to all citizens, under the control of central government.

In the coming days Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi is expected to hold a full media briefing to unpack this bill.

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