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No Need To Cancel Your Medical Aid Anytime Soon, NHI Bill Still Far Off

President Cyril Ramaphosa made light of the fact that he was “looking for a pen” to sign the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law after it had just passed parliament during his speech at the 2024 State of the Nation Address.

With the NHI, all private healthcare would be eliminated save for elective procedures, and the state would serve as the population’s sole purchaser of medical supplies. As beneficial as this may seem, particularly for the 1.5 million South Africans without health insurance, the Bill has been fiercely opposed by individuals in the medical field, including physicians, executives in the corporate world, and even the legal staff of the parliament.

The primary uncertainty surrounding the program’s funding stems from worries that South Africans with low incomes may have to pay more taxes. It is also concerning (and ironic) that despite appeals for more funding to execute the NHI, the government has struggled to place fewer than 700 doctors.

Experts, however, advise people insured by the private sector not to worry about the Bill just yet.

According to BusinessTech, Efficient Wealth stated that the ANC and Rampahosa will exploit the NHI and other initiatives as a means of campaigning. The current text of the Bill will face a barrage of judicial challenges, preventing it from becoming law for several years, even if Rampahosa finds a good enough pen.

In an interview with Moneyweb’s Jeremy Maggs, Gary Feldman, executive head of Healthcare Consulting at NMG Benefits, suggests that no one should cancel their medical insurance just yet because the NHI Bill is still a ways off.

“If you look at once it’s been signed, there is still a lot of different legislation that needs to be adjusted as well, amongst others, the Medical Schemes Act needs to be changed, and that only goes once the NHI Bill has been proclaimed. So that has to be changed and then in the interim” “We do believe that there are a number of societies, organizations like medical schemes, like Business for South Africa (B4SA), that will go to the Constitutional Court, challenging the constitutionality of the NHI Bill.”

Gary Feldman

He made it clear that the private medical plan would not be able to provide the same advantages that the NHI does in the event that this Bill is enacted into law:

“So a medical scheme will only be able to offer top-up benefits. But, as I said, I don’t believe that that will happen for at least another seven to 10 years because the medical schemes bill clearly states as well that the medical scheme will not be able to offer that on full implementation.”

“Now we don’t even know what full implementation means because there is so much to clarify and to basically put in place before the NHI Bill will be implemented in full.”

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