NHI fund will not be another Eskom, says health minister

Zweli Mkhize assured a hospital conference that the national health insurance fund won’t have the power to take risks or raise debts

National Health Insurance (NHI) will be rolled out in a manner that is affordable and will not pose the kinds of risks to the economy that state-owned electricity generator Eskom has done, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Monday.

Eskom posted a net after-tax loss of R21bn for the year to March 31, and its debt currently stands at R440bn — double the current health budget.

NHI is the government’s policy for achieving universal health coverage. Its first piece of enabling legislation was tabled in parliament on August 8, paving the way for the establishment of a central NHI fund that will purchase healthcare services on behalf of patients, which are to be provided free at the point of care.

“It is a fallacy to postulate that the NHI will bankrupt the country. This will be an entity in terms of schedule 3 of the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act), which means unlike an entity like Eskom, it will not have the power to take risks and engage in raising debts and other speculative financial transactions.

Article by TAMAR KAHN and Business Day