‘Health service providers will only be reimbursed once equipment is in place’

The National Health Insurance Bill has been approved, and Minister Zweli Mkhize on Friday explained as much to the nation in his maiden budget vote speech.

But opposition parties have raised concerns about how the plan will be funded in a state where we struggle to run government hospitals and clinics effectively.

So how does government plan to bring about health care for all in this plan?

Department of Health Deputy Director General, Dr Anban Pillay talks to Kieno Kammies the National Health Insurance Bill is designed to work and how it will be funded.

You must remember that the NHI is a funding model in order to provide services for all South Africans.

— Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General – Department of Health
He says going forward, the fund would be able to finance areas in need of services and equipment without having to rely on provincial treasury to procure what was needed.

In a financing system where you are able to bypass some of the procedures that are standard procedures, you would be able to do this much more rapidly than what currently exists in the current health system.

— Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General – Department of Health
He says under the NHI system, the service provider will only be reimbursed once the equipment is in place within an agreed timeline.

The current system has had no incentive to get things done timeously, he explains.

Currently, the problem is that suppliers get paid irrespective of their performance, they could take a month or six months to do the same thing and still get paid.

— Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General – Department of Health
He says the finance plan has been outlined in a White Paper by the National Treasury and identified a number of revenue sources through various forms of taxation to fund NHI.

Pillay agrees that in order for the NHI to work, the health care system needs to operate effectively.

The important point to make is we are using the change in the financing model for health care to also effectively change the model of health care delivery.

— Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General – Department of Health
Dr Katlego Mothudi, MD of Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) of Southern Africa talks to Kieno and responds to the new NHI and the implications of putting it into effect.

Kieno Kammies speaks to Katusha De Villiers, acting senior manager of the Bertha Centre. She is also the senior project manager for their Health Systems Entrepreneurship (HSE) project and their aim is to create a cohesive response to healthcare needs in remote areas using tech and innovation.

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