- Parliament released the National Health Insurance Bill on Thursday
- The Bill seeks to provide "comprehensive healthcare services" to citizens
- The Bill is complex, however, and comes with a number of important considerations
The National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is set to be released on Thursday.
The Bill has stirred considerable public debate in recent months, with both staunch supporters and detractors.
Here some important things to know about the Bill.
Once the NHI is law, citizens will not be able to have a comprehensive medical aid, Briefly.co.za has gathered. This is because other medical aid plans will not be permitted to cover any services provided by the NHI.
At this point, it is not known what exact services the NHI will provide. These services will be decided by a committee, according to News24. For now, the Bill says that it will cover "comprehensive healthcare services" - a rather open-ended statement from which not much can be gleaned.
Additionally, and notably, the NHI will not cover direct visits to specialists. For the NHI to pay for a specialist consultation, you will first need to go to a primary healthcare facility and receive the go-ahead.
One of the major questions concerning the NHI is simply, 'Who will pay for it?' The bulk of the funding will come from taxes. Certain funds from the Treasury will be also reallocated to support the NHI.
However, it is does not appear likely that the NHI will be up and running any time soon. The Bill aims to be operational by 2026 but some experts say it could take even longer.
In addition, while the Bill has some ardent supporters, not all commentators have been so enthusiastic. Daily Maverick columnist, Ivo Vegter, for example, slammed the proposal on Thursday, saying it would be a "socialist disaster, like education, Eskom and SAA".
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