Tax breaks for medical aid members – amounting to R20-billion annually – may get may be scrapped if Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gets his way.
Presenting his Budget speech in Parliament yesterday, Motsoaledi said instead of these tax breaks, this money should be channeled to improving the poorest citizen’s access to healthcare through the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme.
“Taking so much money back to rich people is like sending coal back to Newcastle when you have a neighbour without a simple fire to cook their food,” said Motsoaledi.
“This is the worst form of social injustice committed in the name of the cream of the South African society with our full participation.”
The Minister described the NHI as “a health financing system that pools funds to provide access to quality health services for all South Africans, based on their health needs and irrespective of their socio-economic status”.
“We are proposing that the 1st step towards implementation of NHI is to pick up those who are outside the system of medical aids and provide services for them through the NHI Fund which must be created from, among others, the R20 billion tax credits,” said the Minister.
NHI pilot over
For the past five years, the NHI has been piloted in 10 districts countrywide but the pilot phase is now at an end and health system changes are going to be implemented more widely now.
For a start, every South African is going to get a ‘unique patient identifier’ (UPI) linked to their ID which will be able to track all patients and get their medical records wherever they are in the country.
“Under NHI, you are going to need this number which will link you from facility to facility in the public sector, from your GP to any facility and from your private hospital to your public hospital,” said Motsoaledi.
Six million people have already been issued with the UPI, which has been developed.
Progress made in the NHI pilots includes:
- the building of 34 new clinics with 48 others in the process of being completed
- refurbishment of 154 clinics and are still busy with refurbishing 192 others.
- screening of over 3,2 million school kids for physical barriers to learning, which found that 500 000 have health issues relating to teeth, eyesight, hearing and speech.
The Department of Health has also introduced an electronic stock visibility system (SVS) to monitor medicine stocks, in partnership with Vodacom. The system is alredy operating in over 3000 clinics.
In addition, patients who are stable on chronic medication do not have to visit our clinics anymore – except maybe after 6 months for check-up. They collect their medicines in 401 pickup points around the country and 1,300,000 patients are using this system, relieving congestion in our clinics or hospitals. – Health-e News.