Government Employees Medical Scheme reacts to health bills

22 June 2018 - 12:58 By Penwell Dlamini
The NHI would be like a giant state-run medical aid.
The NHI would be like a giant state-run medical aid.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock Images

The Government Employees Medical Scheme has welcomed the publication of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill.

Dr Guni Goolab‚ principal officer of the Government Employees Medical Scheme‚ said the bills had come at just the right time‚ before a much-awaited provisional report that looked at costs in the health sector that will be released at the end of the month.

Goolab said it was good that the bills were released together by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

“The NHI indicates the long-term future of the country in terms of healthcare but simultaneously with the publication of the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill‚ it confirms that there continues to be a role for medical schemes as we move towards universal healthcare‚” said Goolab.

He also welcomed the focus on the main areas that both schemes and members complained about.

“A number of the amendments speak to challenges that both members and the medical schemes have been experiencing up until now … All of them have been raising concerns about contributions increasing above inflation and also exposure to co-payment. The amendments speak to these concerns.

“Also‚ while it is not directly in the amendment‚ it does cover the issue of reserve requirements for medical schemes. It anticipates that the Council [for Medical Aid Schemes] will shortly publish a policy around that. If that is revised to a new formula … which will put a lower reserve requirement than currently held and that benefit could be transferred to members‚” said Goolab.

On Thursday‚ Motsoaledi released the NHI bill‚ which he said would be a mandatory fund for free high-quality healthcare for all people. Motsoaledi explained that the NHI would be a single fund that everyone‚ who could afford to‚ would pay towards. It would be like a giant state-run medical aid.