by Candice Hellriegal

Medical professionals in doubt about NHI

Lack of clarity in NHI procedure creates uncertainty

Future of SA healthcare
Medical professionals question NHI

South Africa’s medical professionals are well aware of the need for universal healthcare coverage, yet many remain unconvinced about the meaningful implementation of the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.

A survey of nearly 1 000 medical professionals showed that 60% of respondents said they agreed with the principles behind the NHI. Of the respondents questioned, 15% believed that the current solution is in fixing the country’s ailing healthcare system.

According to Gerhard Joubert, head of Group Marketing and Stakeholder Relations at PPS – the financial services provider focused on graduate professionals – part of the concern regarding the introduction of the NHI is the lack of clarity over how the system will work.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding NHI and how the system will be funded, as well as how the government plans to address the dire condition of many state facilities, so part of the concern from the medical sector is no doubt due to the uncertainty.”

He says the proposal put forward by the health minister to open an Academy for Leadership and Management in Health Care in Pretoria to train various management levels within the public health system, is already a good indication of how the government plans to address the current issues within the public sector.

“While the proposal will still be at the discussion stage, this will provide far more clarity for both the medical sector and for consumers who will ultimately be funding the system – whether through a payroll tax, higher value-added tax, or a surcharge on income tax,” says Joubert.

The survey further revealed that medical professionals are also concerned about how NHI will impact on their ability to earn a salary. Respondents had a confidence level of 52% on whether their prospects of earning a sufficient income if NHI were to be implemented – down one percentage point on the previous three months. 

“South Africa’s medical professionals clearly support the idea of providing quality healthcare to the whole of society – but it is crucial that the government not only addresses the concerns among this segment, but also seeks to engage properly with the private sector to ensure complete buy-in from all stakeholders,” concludes Joubert. 

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