Reforming South Africa’s proposed healthcare financing reforms

This paper by FMF Director Jasson Urbach asks an important question: Is South Africa capable of providing “free health care for all”?


On 30 June 2017, the South African government gazetted the latest iteration of its long-awaited National Health Insurance (NHI) policy paper. However, South Africans are no closer to understanding critical details such as how much the scheme will cost, where the money to pay for it will come from, and where the country will obtain the additional personnel (both medical and bureaucratic) to staff the ambitious scheme.


When one considers the high levels of poverty and unemployment, the small tax base, and the poor performance of the public health sector, it is difficult to envision how a government-funded system that promises “free healthcare for all” is appropriate for South Africa.


Government’s role should be to fund the healthcare needs of only the poorest and most vulnerable members of society and allow the private healthcare sector to grow, innovate and expand. Such a healthcare model would not only be good for South Africa’s financial health, but would lead to better health outcomes for the poor.

Download Jasson's paper here.

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