Ramaphosa signs health bill ahead of South African elections

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the National Health Insurance Act into law in South Africa, aiming to provide universal health coverage and address the country’s two-tier health system. The law seeks to create a more just society by limiting the role of private insurance and establishing a new public fund to provide free access to healthcare for all citizens. Critics argue that the plan will strain public finances, limit patient choice, and drive talented doctors out of the country.

Opponents plan to challenge the law in court, with concerns about its affordability and possible tax increases to fund it. The upcoming elections on May 29 are anticipated to be highly contested, with the ruling African National Congress facing the possibility of receiving less than 50 percent of the vote for the first time since 1994. The Democratic Alliance has announced plans to legally challenge the law, while other groups like AfriForum have expressed concerns about its workability and affordability.

The Health Funders Association stated that there will be no immediate impact on medical scheme benefits or contributions, and they are prepared to defend the rights of South Africans to choose privately funded healthcare. On the other hand, the NEHAWU labour union has urged the government to fully support and resource the NHI plan.

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