The South African parliament is finally assessing the anticipated National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill. Independent Online (IOL) reports that this proposal seeks to minimise the expenses related to providing comprehensive public health care.

NHI is known as the SA government’s first move to provide cost-free universal healthcare to all qualified individuals. This includes permanent residents and refugees. However, asylum seekers will only be able to avail emergency services and those related to publicly concerning conditions.

This ensures that the services eligible patients will receive complies with professional standards and regulations. This bill will also facilitate the implementation of free healthcare through the prioritization of preventive and primary services. It will involve a system that guards referrals to specialists.

The government will release a memorandum detailing the step-by-step implementation of the law. This memorandum will establish an NHI fund and an executive authority, which will start bidding for funding from the national budget. It will also introduce new sources of state revenue, including alternative tax options.

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Treating the high cost and sustainability of public healthcare coverage as a serious issue. The memorandum will create a “checks and balances” system, which will restrict “unnecessary” costs carried by the patients and healthcare providers.

It also aims to address health conditions before they get more acute through preventive and primary care. According to the memorandum, budding conditions can be handled at this level.

Aside from placing a so-called “gatekeeping” system, the bill will also allow patients to avail advanced services. This will be done through a referral network, allowing the government to minimise the costs.

IOL adds that patients who fail to comply with the referral system will not be able to utilize the free healthcare offered by NHI. They will also be refused free treatments if there are “no cost-effective intervention” available for the service required. This will be ascertained by a thorough assessment using technology.

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