SA’s biggest body representing doctors has asked the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to vote against the passing of the National Health Insurance Bill in its current form.

News24 reports that the South African Medical Association (Sama), which represents more than 12 000 doctors, submitted a petition signed by more than 52 000 medical practitioners to the NCOP which is considering the Bill.

According to Sama, it has been involved in the legislative process of the Bill from its inception.

In a letter to NCOP chairperson Amos Masondo, Sama chairperson Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa said they had made written and verbal representations to Parliament outlining concerns regarding the Bill and its potential implications.

‘Regrettably, our views have been largely disregarded, leading to the adoption of the Bill by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health in May 2023, and its subsequent adoption by the National Assembly on 13 June 2023. It was thereafter that we elected to exercise our constitutional right to petition the National Council of Provinces as a last resort,’ he said.

Sama’s key concerns about the Bill are the risks of corruption, its failure to deal with human resource shortages and infrastructure problems in the public healthcare system, its limitations on the role of medical schemes, and the lack of a cost assessment. 

Business Day reports that SA has a deeply inequitable health system, which sees almost 9m people covered by medical schemes able to access private healthcare and the rest of the population depending on patchy public services or paying out of pocket for private care.

NHI aims to pool funding to ensure everyone has access to healthcare services that are free at the point of delivery. 

Exactly how it will be financed has yet to be determined.

A fact sheet released by the government in June says new taxes will be required, such as a payroll tax and a surcharge on taxable income, but does not set out the level at which they will be pegged.

Full News24 report

Full Business Day report