Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi presented the Medical Schemes Amendment and National Health Insurance Bills today in Pretoria. Read his full speech below.
We have called this Press Conference to deal with two Bills
I will first present the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and end with the NHI Bill.
Thereafter I will open the floor for questions on both Bills to be dealt with at the same time.
The Medical Schemes Amendment Bill
This Bill seeks to amend the Medical Schemes Act, 1998 (Act No. 131 of 1998), in order to align with the National Health Insurance White Paper and the National Health Insurance Bill.
The first reason for this amendment is that the implementation of NHI is not going to be a once-off event but it will take place in a phased-in approach. While this is happening the population of medical schemes beneficiaries need immediate relief from serious challenges experienced in the current medical scheme regime. The nature and magnitude of the challenges is that it will be undesirable for medical scheme beneficiaries to have to wait for long term changes.
The second reason for the amendment is to align the medical scheme environment to that which will exist under NHI so that there is a smooth, harmonious transition that does not unduly disrupt access to health care.
As it is now generally accepted, the cost of private healthcare is out of the reach of many citizens, even the well-to-do ones. The only argument that persists is what are the reasons for that. Because of this persisting argument, former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo has been appointed by the Competition Commission to conduct a Public Market Inquiry into the cost of Private Health Care.
He has been on it for more than 3 years now, and we are aware that he intends to release the provisional findings and recommendations for public comment on the 28 of June 2018 (next week).
Unfortunately we hear rumours that certain vested interest groups are trying to block the release of the findings to the extent that they might even interdict it. I can only assume that they do not want the public to know the truth.
While we do not know the contents of that Report, however we do know, because this was publicly done, that the presentation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated that contrary to belief, only 10% of South Africa's population can afford what is being charged in Private Health Care.
Hence the amendments we are introducing are meant to provide much needed relief to patients finding themselves in serious financial hardships.
The total amount paid to brokers in 2017 was R2.2 billion.
We want this money to be made available to pay for direct health expenses of members rather than serving brokers who are actually not needed in the healthcare system.
We are aware that most of the work supposedly done by brokers is actually done by the Council for Medical Schemes - the statutory body.
The FSCA has amended its rules to exclude such entities from registering with them.
This enables the Registrar of Medical Schemes to understand the trends of behaviour of medical scheme members in selection of medical scheme or options, their age profile, disease profile, health seekers behaviour, as well as their geographic distribution. This information will assist in the planning of NHI services.
Presently medical schemes are reluctant to give this valuable information and there is no act to compel them.
The essence of NHI which must start now even with the present medical aid schemes is that the rich must subsidise the poor, the young must subsidise the old and the healthy must subsidise the sick. The present contribution table charges the same rate for a lower income earner and a high income earner for the same benefits. This practice completely negates the principles of income cross-subsidisation.
Download Motsoaledi's full speech or download his presentation.
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