'Health insurance cost not yet finalised'

The Department of Health has denied that the proposed National Health Insurance will cost taxpayers an extra R244billion a year.

About a week ago Econex, an economics consultancy, released a report estimating that the government would need an extra R244billion a year for the NHI to work. This was nearly three times more than last year's health care budget.

Fidel Hadebe, the department's spokesperson, yesterday rubbished the claims, saying it was impossible to accurately project the NHI costs now.

"The ministerial advisory committee on NHI has noted with concern the latest report of Econex indicating the potential cost of the scheme.

"While the role of various experts is appreciated, parties are urged to refrain from making unfounded claims about the NHI until the full details of the scheme have been finalised," Hadebe said.

"The cost of the NHI can only be determined once details on the scheme have been finalised."

The advisory committee, formed last year to advise Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, is currently working on the NHI document. It met two weeks ago to discuss the scheme's implementation, he said.

The revised NHI policy document, which would incorporate public comments, is supposed to be presented to Cabinet in April.