Not only has the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill been in hot debate in parliament but the public are often heard voicing their concerns among friends and on social platforms.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) have now stepped forward and said they are backing the implementation of a universal health bill with an integrated health system.
Public comment on the bill has been extended to November 29 which should allow plenty time for consultation through provincial public hearings and adequate consultation in Parliament.
NEHAWU stated that healthcare is a right and not a commodity and they undertake the following:
- To embark on a countrywide education programme regarding the NHI and the public right to healthcare.
- To work together with COSATU, progressive student organisations and other allied groups to defend the bill ensuring it maintains a national policy .
- They will campaign for the implementation of the NHI across all provinces and ensure that more nurses and medical staff are employed in available vacancies as well as quality service delivery as stipulated by the Office of the Health Standards and Compliance (OHSC).
Profiteering is the cause of the current health system failure
The NHI bill will require the integration of the entire health system, including the private health industry and independent providers to prevent the wide-scale profiteering which is currently occurring in the industry.
Currently, even non-profit medical schemes and care organisations are being driven by profit as they are continually raising their premiums while reducing their benefits. Most medical schemes are failing to protect the interests of their members due to this scenario.
The three monopoly hospital groups are also to blame for focusing on their profit-margin rather than on the well-being of their patients as they impose high tariffs on patients.
The Competition Commission failed in it’s duty as it allowed these hospital groups to take over the smaller hospitals.
NEHAWU believes that the profiteering is wide-spread as General Practitioners (GPs) and specialists have abandoned the ethical code to perform their duties in the best interests of their patients and have placed some in unnecessarily expensive and financially crippling treatments or procedures when more affordable options are available.
Together with COSATU and other organisations NEHAWU want to educate and mobilise programmes which will prevent profiteering in the health industry and break-up monopolies as healthcare should be treated as a right and not a commodity.
The National Health Insurance Bill has been addressed a few time sin history
Initial discussions regarding a NHI bill were held in the 1920s. The idea of reforming healthcare was raised again in 1941, by the Freedom Charter in 1955 and the Taylor committee of inquiry in 2002.
Each time the proposed system is revised with the public’s benefit in mind.
The implementation for the NHI is set for 2026 with the intent to offer all South African citizens the same health cover in the public health sector which is enjoyed in the private sector.