Will private medical care remain relevant once NHI is rolled out?

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If everything goes according to plan, South Africa will have its own National Health Insurance (NHI) by 2025. The aim is to deliver better, more affordable healthcare to all. These changes will force the country’s private healthcare providers to reinvent themselves to stay relevant and in business.

Despite progress, South Africa’s healthcare spectrum remains a tale of two worlds. On the one side, there is the country’s public healthcare system which serves 45 million women, men and children, 84% of the population. While services are affordable and free to those below a certain income threshold, this world tends to be characterised by ailing infrastructure, inadequate management, overall inefficiency, drug stock-outs, dysfunctional equipment and chronic staff shortages. Recent research by Africa Check shows there may be only one government-employed doctor for every 2 457 public healthcare patients, compared to one medical aid-registered doctor for every 429 private patients.
“The current dual system just isn’t working. Private healthcare is increasingly unaffordable and exclusive, while the public sector is overburdened and inefficient,” says Butsi Tladi, managing director, Alexander Forbes Health. “Both require intervention if the country is to offer quality healthcare for all.”

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