Let's be honest: state is not capable of implementing NHI

03 July 2017 - 06:42 By The Times Editorial
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

The National Health Insurance white paper has been published. It proposes that current medical scheme members lose their tax credits to help pay for the first set of NHI benefits. It also suggests doing away with medical scheme subsidies for government workers and state-owned entities’ employees.

At the moment medical scheme members get a monthly tax credit and can claim back some of their out-of-pocket medical expenses. In 2015, government granted R20-billion in tax credits to medical scheme members.

This is the money the health department is now wanting to hold back on to subsidise the greatly ambitious NHI.

It is a Catch 22 situation. Outraged medical scheme members would argue against the proposal because medical costs are already unreasonably high, even with the tax credits.

Which is exactly why the government wants to introduce an affordable healthcare system for all. In theory, this makes sense. But in practice?

Consider the South African government's track record in the implementation of big projects. The Digital Migration Policy. Initial deadline: 2015. Implementation date? Yet to be confirmed. Remember the lengthy delays in readying Sassa to pay out to grants' beneficiaries? And don't forget the National Development Plan, launched in 2011, now gathering dust in a government office.

Already critics have raised red flags in the NHI white paper, saying it contains outdated numbers.

Let's be honest: our government is not capable of implementing NHI.

It does not have big policy temperament.

South African taxpayers should, this time, hope for endless delays in its implementation, because NHI is not the solution to our health crisis.