Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The Cabinet has approved the Department of Health’s latest iteration of the White Paper on National Health Insurance (NHI), paving the way for it to be published as a policy document in the government gazette, it announced earlier today.

The timing is significant, as it comes less than two weeks before the ANC policy conference in early July.

NHI is an ambitious set of health financing reforms that aims to provide healthcare to everyone that is free at the point of care.

"The White Paper takes the country closer to ensuring all South Africans have access to healthcare, irrespective of their socioeconomic status. This is consistent with the National Development Plan’s (NDP’s) objective that seeks to ensure everyone has access to healthcare, regardless of their income," the Cabinet said in a statement.

Some of the key issues that will be scrutinised in the new policy are the details of package of benefits provided under NHI, how they will be paid for, and where the private sector will fit in.

The future role of medical schemes will be closely examined, as it is a potential flash point with organised labour: trade union federation Cosatu wants the government to implement a single NHI fund, in which there is no space for other funding mechanisms, such as medical schemes, but the department has said it will be impossible to introduce NHI in one fell swoop and a softer approach is required in the transition to NHI.

The Cabinet said the Department of Health would hold a briefing on June 29 "to fully unpack the elements" of the policy document.

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