1. Will you be able to say “thanks, but no thanks”? 

If the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is passed in its current form, the NHI will be compulsory, regardless of whether you also belong to a private medical aid. So, opting out won’t be possible. The Bill says the NHI, which will be like a big, state-funded medical scheme, will be a free service, but it doesn’t tell us what benefits will be covered, how the scheme will be paid for or how much it will cost.

2. When will the NHI start, and, will it actually happen?

The NHI Bill says the scheme will be implemented in three phases — we’re currently in the second phase (2017 – 2022), during which NHI legislation has to be developed and the NHI fund has to be established. During the last phase, from 2022 – 2026, Cabinet has to approve “the mobilisation of additional resources” so that the NHI can start to buy healthcare services from both public and private providers on a large scale. ….more