(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s cabinet has approved a policy white paper on a compulsory health insurance plan.
“It will be funded through a central fund that will also be made available to private medical practitioners who want to participate in the scheme,” Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe told reporters Friday in the capital, Pretoria. “It will be phased in over the years and focus mainly on commencing in under-serviced areas.”
President Jacob Zuma initially announced the program in his first state of the nation address in 2009 and the publication of details about the financing arrangements has been postponed several times. The National Health Insurance (NHI) is on track to provide universal health coverage to South Africans once it’s fully implemented.
The government has established pilot districts for the proposed NHI in all nine provinces, and the Treasury set aside 18.1 billion rand ($1.2 billion) over three years in the 2014 budget review to revamp and build hospitals and clinics and other infrastructure for the program. Spending on health will account for more than 11 percent of government expenditure in year through March 2016 will grow at 8.3 percent a year over the next three years, the fastest-growing expenditure item after home affairs and debt-service costs, according to the mid-term budget released in October.