Current news update

11 August 2019

NHI Bill to be released on Thursday

Business Day 07 August 2019 – The bill is the first piece of enabling legislation for the government’s ambitious plans for implementing universal health coverage

A draft NHI Bill was released for public comment in June 2018, and then revised before being submitted to cabinet. The updated version, which has yet to be released to the public, was approved by the cabinet on July 10. It is expected to contain proposals for establishing an NHI fund, which will purchase services on behalf of patients from accredited public and private sector providers. The bill contains potentially contentious measures, as it is expected to signal the government’s view on the future role of medical schemes and that of provincial health departments. Observers will also be scrutinising the governance measures put in place to protect the NHI fund from corruption. the NHI bill will be published on the health department’s website after health minister Zweli Mkhize briefs the media, which he is slated to do at 9am in Pretoria. For the article click here

NHI may be healthcare's mortal blow

Sunday Times 11 August 2019 – Just enough detail in Bill to cause alarm as Pretoria unveils plan

Health professionals this week warned of a looming disaster in SA’s already shaky public health service. It emerged this week that the government still does not know what it will cost, whether there will still be a place for medical schemes, and whether patients will have a say over which doctors they consult. What the National Health Insurance Bill does say is that the health minister will be given extraordinary powers over the public and private health sectors.

Medical aids advised on efficient coverage

Sunday Times 11 August 2019 – Benefits of savings accounts and hospital plans questioned

At the BHF Conference, Rajesh Patel, BHF head of benefits and risk, suggested that schemes phase out hospital plans that provide minimal day-to-day cover, and diminish the role of savings accounts in funding visits to a general practitioner. In addition, conference delegates heard that primary and preventative healthcare benefits are likely to feature prominently in National Health Insurance.

Cape Town's gun violence is making health workers sick‚ bosses warn

Business Day 9 August 2019 - High levels of violence and the severity of some of the injuries they deal with are driving health workers to their sick beds‚ according to the head of trauma at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.

Prof Andrew Nicol told a media briefing on Thursday that many emergency workers were being booked off with burnout and post-traumatic stress disorder. "The numbers have increased but the complexity has changed. The heart-wrenching cases that we have to endure on a daily basis is something to behold‚" said Nicol. For the article click here

Say ‘No!’ to the NHI – IRR

Politicsweb – 9 August 2019 - Institute says under the system the State will control every aspect of healthcare

There is still no clarity on: - what NHI will cost ; how it will be financed ; what benefits it will cover ; how the supply of healthcare services will be increased to match demand; how the enormous administrative burden will be met; how corruption will be curbed; why medical schemes should be confined to providing ‘complementary’ and ‘top-up’ cover for healthcare services not provided by the NHI. Click here for the article

Zweli Mkhize throws medical schemes a lifeline in NHI Bill

Business Day 8 August 2019 - The bill will enable schemes to continue until universal health coverage is implemented, after which they can cover ‘complementary’ services

Once the NHI is fully implemented, they will be restricted to offering cover for “complementary” services not covered by NHI. The development will offer welcome reassurance to medical schemes, their administrators and brokers, which feared they might be legislated out of existence in one fell swoop. Clause 33 of the 60-page bill says: “Once NHI has been fully implemented as determined by the minister through regulations in the [Government] Gazette, medical schemes may only offer complementary cover to services not reimbursable by the fund”. For the article click here

Read the NHI Bill here

Business Day 8 August 2019 - The bill is the first piece of enabling legislation for the government’s ambitious plans for implementing universal health coverage

The long-awaiting National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill was introduced to parliament on Thursday. The bill is important because it is the first piece of enabling legislation for the government’s ambitious plans for implementing universal health coverage, which it calls NHI. For the article click here

Health department promises no new taxes for NHI — for now

Business Day 8 August 2019 - Anban Pillay says ‘it is only in the final stages that Treasury will be introducing any form of taxes’

One of the key questions about NHI is how the government plans to fund it, given SA’s tight fiscal environment and weak economy. The health department’s deputy director-general for NHI, Anban Pillay, said the government would not initially raise taxes to finance NHI, and would instead reallocate funds within the health budget. For the article click here

Health department considers shorter breast cancer treatment

Business Day 07 August 2019 – New study finds that halving the course of therapy with costly drug is as effective as the full-year course

The high cost of trastuzumab has been a barrier to treatment in both the public and private sector in SA. The health department only added it to its treatment guidelines in 2017, and provision of the drug by provincial health departments has remained limited due to its price.

Mediclinic to challenge Competition Tribunal ruling against it

Business Day 06 August 2019 - Battle highlights the conundrum facing all three JSE-listed hospital groups, as they face regulatory constraints to domestic expansion and have struggled to succeed abroad

Private hospital group Mediclinic is poised to challenge the Competition Tribunal’s prohibition of its proposed acquisition of Matlosana Medical Health Services (MMHS) at the Competition Appeal Court, as it fights to expand its footprint in the North West. Click here for the article https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/healthcare/2019-08-06-mediclinic-to-challenge-competition-tribunal-ruling-against-it/

Use of generic medicines rises to an all-time high in the private sector

Business Day 06 August 2019 - Latest Mediscor review says generic utilisation rate more than doubled from 27.7% in 2002 to 62.4% in 2018

The trend highlights the continued impact of the health department’s laws encouraging the use of generics, combined with measures taken by medical schemes to discourage the use of more expensive branded products. Mediscor, a benefit management company, publishes an annual review of medicine trends in the private sector. Click here for the article

Uganda begins trial of Ebola vaccine

Business Day 06 August 2019 - Uganda says it has started a trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine that may be used in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo

The trial of the MVA-BN vaccine developed by Johnson&Johnson is expected to last two years, Uganda’s Medical Research Council (MRC) said. The vaccine will be administered to up to 800 health professionals and frontline workers. For the article click here

BP medical aid merger with Momentum turned down by regulator

Business Day 05 August 2019 - Decision seen as unusual given that medical schemes industry is consolidating

The medical schemes regulator has rejected a proposed merger between SA’s third biggest medical scheme, Momentum Health, and a small scheme restricted to the South African employees of the British oil and gas company BP. It is an unusual development, as the medical schemes industry is consolidating and has seen the number of schemes steadily shrink.  For the article click here

Publication date: 8/11/2019