During his Sona address, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that government plans to incrementally implement the NHI, dealing with issues like health system financing, the health workforce, medical products, vaccines and technologies, as well as health information systems.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to sign the contentious National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill into law on Wednesday, 14 May. The Presidency issued a statement on Monday evening announcing the news in its latest update on progress regarding the signing of the bill.

The Health Department explained that private medical schemes will continue to exist under the NHI system, but “their role will change”.
“When the NHI is fully implemented they will provide cover for services not reimbursable by the NHI Fund,” it said.

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During his State of the Nation (Sona) address in February, Ramaphosa joked that he was “looking for a pen” to sign it. “The bill has arrived on my desk. I am going through the bill. I am looking for a pen,” the president said.

According to the statement, Ramaphosa will publicly sign the NHI Bill at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Signing the bill into law will set into motion the government’s plans for universal health coverage by creating a unified health system that provides patients with care that is free at the point of delivery – whether at a public or private facility.

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“Such a move would erode the current world-class private healthcare system and further threaten the country’s already stretched healthcare provider base. Currently, state clinics and hospitals are overwhelmed, struggling to deliver the most basic care, often inadvertently risking lives. If private healthcare can no longer alleviate at least some pressure on the public system, the NHI’s promised reforms will not be realised,” Craig Comrie, chairperson of the HFA said.

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