Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi is to brief the media today (Thursday) on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill. News and analysis will be posted to the MedicalBrief website during the course of the day.

The content of both Bills, which have yet to be published in the Government Gazette for comment, are keenly awaited by consumers and industry alike as they contain potentially wide-reaching reforms. Both Bills been approved by Cabinet, reports Business Day.

The report says the NHI Bill is the first enabling piece of legislation for the government’s NHI policy, which aims to introduce universal healthcare. Its goal is to provide healthcare services that are free at the point of delivery. The Bill is expected to closely follow the government’s NHI white paper and establish an NHI fund to pay for healthcare services but will not provide the details of how NHI is to be financed.

The Medical Schemes Amendment Bill paves the way for reforms to the medical scheme industry, which has seen no significant legislative changes for over a decade. The report says the minister was quoted as saying in May that the Bill proposed changes to the minimum basket of care that all medical schemes must provide to their members. It also scrapped co-payments for those benefits and introduced a uniform tariff. At the time, Motsoaledi said the reforms were intended to increase consumer protection.