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By Zinhle | Jun 09, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

HEALTH economist Alex van den Heever has slammed the government's paper outlining its proposed national healthinsurance (NHI) system.

He says the government has come up with a "completely unworkable and unaffordable solution that will not improve health services".

"The proposed changes would introduce a complexity into the health system that would outweigh any benefits. The NHI is far from reducing costs, it is more likely to increase them significantly," he said.

"In my view the proposed plan is a disaster in the making."

The controversial insurance scheme is expected to cost more than R200billion to implement over the next five years, and then about R60 billion a year to sustain. The core funder would be general taxes.

The first phase will have to be undertaken within the first year of the new administration's term of office if election promises are kept. The NHI aims to create an efficient, equitable and sustainable health system for all South Africans.

But the scheme has found a few allies. Chris Malikane, a macroeconomist at Wits Business School, believes it could solve South Africa's ailing health system.

"The system could bring balance to the skewed allocation of resources. At present 60 percent of the health budget goes to the private sector, which services about 7 million people, and 40 percent goes to the public sector, which caters for about 38 million people," Malikane said.

"People would choose which service provider to use within a district.

Access would not be based on the ability to pay, but people who are eligible to contribute would be required to do so."

The draft documents will be ready by June 30 and public consultations will then begin.


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