Thursday 16 May 2024


South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has approved a controversial new law that will lead to the biggest shake-up in the health sector since the end of the racist system of apartheid 30 years ago.

It promises universal health care for all, but has faced fierce resistance from the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which has accused the president of signing the "death warrant" of health care in South Africa.

It warns that the scheme could be hugely expensive, and fuel corruption.

The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme advocates the creation of a state fund to cover the medical costs of all South Africans - most of whom are not currently covered.

It goes further to bar people from taking out private health insurance for treatment paid for by the fund, which is proving very controversial.

"Once the NHI fund covers a benefit, the medical schemes will not cover the same benefits," the government says.

This is unlike countries such as the UK, which has the state-funded National Health Service (NHS), but where people are free to take out medical insurance to receive any treatment they want from private doctors and hospitals.

"South Africans will no longer be required to contribute directly to a medical health scheme to get quality health care," an explainer on the parliamentary website says, external.

Once the NHI scheme is fully implemented "the role of medical schemes will change as they will provide cover for services not reimbursable by the NHI Fund", it says. BBC


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