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Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi arrived at the ANC conference this weekend with a freshly minted policy on National Health Insurance (NHI), promising delegates and the nation game-changing reforms that herald affordable quality healthcare for all. Yet, as ever, the policy remains long on promise and short on detail, lacking a credible implementation plan. It has all the air of a job pushed through to appease the minister’s political masters and keep trade union federation Cosatu at bay. In essence, the NHI is a set of health financing reforms that aim to provide everyone with healthcare services that are free at the point of delivery. It is enshrined in social solidarity principles that state that everyone should contribute according to their means and will receive benefits according to their needs — in effect ensuring the rich and healthy subsidise the poor and sick. At present, public sector patients pay fees that are means-tested, so only the very poor get discounted or free ser...

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