23rd Annual BHF Conference: Shaping The Future Of Healthcare Amidst NHI Bill Discourse

While South Africa awaits the President’s sign-off on the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill with bated breath, the 23rd Annual Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) Conference emerges as a critical platform for industry stakeholders to dissect its implications and strategise the next steps. 

Themed “Beyond Barriers: Navigating the Future for Sustainable Healthcare”, industry titans are poised to convene from 4 May to 8 May, 2024 to delve deeply into some of the threats to industry sustainability and chart a roadmap to the future the BHF and its stakeholders want.

A highlight of this year’s event will be the unveiling of BHF-commissioned research on perceptions around medical schemes and private healthcare. The research conducted an in-depth analysis of numerous negative comments surrounding the funding industry during the NHI process and objectively tested these for accuracy. 

It reveals a narrative that often lacks factual evidence and unfairly portrays the industry in a negative manner. This research not only aims to uncover truths, but also safeguard the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Despite ongoing debates surrounding the NHI bill that the private sector does not support, the conference will debunk these misconceptions head-on, offering evidence-based insights into the critical role private healthcare plays in advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) goals.

BHF MD Dr Katlego Mothudi says the industry today is characterised by an integrated approach towards public and private health citizens. “In this respect, the BHF supports UHC and recognises the NHI as one of the mechanisms towards its progressive realisation.” BHF and its members have embraced the principles of the UHC. BHF has actively developed a framework to assist its members in aligning with these principles. 

“However, BHF does not support the NHI Bill in its current form due to the unconstitutionality of several of its provisions, its proposed restriction of medical schemes, and the concomitant loss of economic value that will inevitably follow.

“The private health funding sector in South Africa should not be sacrificed in favour of NHI. It is a valuable source of jobs, scarce skills, infrastructure, financial investment, and quality health care. The value it adds to the economy and the support it provides to the public health sector cannot be underestimated.”

“The bill reduces the role of the private sector and we want those sections removed,” says Dr Mothudi.  In fact, he says weakening any aspect of the private health sector will weaken the national health system rather than strengthen it.

In anticipation of the signing of the bill, many parties in the sector are set to challenge the bill. BHF has invited various legal experts to present a way forward for the industry should the bill be signed.

“We believe BHF members are well positioned to play a critical role in the NHI environment and have urged them to fully adopt UHC principles. This will see them, amongst others, focus on health governance, understanding and providing benefits that meet the health needs of the population, and redefining the business of medical aid schemes,” he concludes.

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