The following is an op-ed written by President Cyril Ramaphosa

With the recent release of the National Health Insurance Bill, South Africa is one step closer to achieving universal health coverage for all its people and the realisation of the demand of the Freedom Charter that “free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all.”

National Health Insurance (NHI) provides a real opportunity for the present health system to be overhauled towards a universal system where people will access quality care based on need and contribute towards its funding according to ability to pay.

Since the Bill was released for public comment, two questions have dominated debate on the NHI – what will it cost and can the country afford it?

South Africa, with its current two-tiered and unequal health care model, has one of the most expensive health systems in the world. We presently spend more than R420 billion on health care. Half of this amount is used by only 17% of the population. We pay more per person on health care than most middle income countries. …..more