The Sunday Mail
The first batch of beneficiaries of Government’s National Health Insurance Scheme will be co-opted into the system in the first four months of 2017 as the State moves to ensure universal health coverage. The NHIS will provide health insurance cover to over 12 million Zimbabweans. The Sunday Mail understands that Cabinet is debating principles of the Draft NHIS Bill, which is being sponsored by the Health and Child Care, and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministries.
Establishing the NHIS was mulled several years ago and Government has upped its pace in setting up the scheme in recent months.
The scheme, which will be run under the National Social security Authority, will target all Zimbabweans not covered by private health insurance; including the unemployed, low-income workers and vulnerable groups.
The Sunday Mail could, however, not establish the proposed funding model but previous proposals have included a new tax, member contributions or NSSA finances.
NSSA board chair Mr Robin Vela told this publication last week that, “We understand that principals of the Draft Bill have been taken to Cabinet to look at them and possibly approve.
“Our intention is to have the scheme up and running early next year when we expect to have our first beneficiaries receiving coverage. We already have experience in running schemes of the nature — owing to our experience with the Workman Compensation Trust Fund.
“The scheme will be the biggest in the country and most importantly the most affordable. We anticipate that the scheme will provide value added service for the benefit of our clients.”
Only 10 percent of Zimbabweans have medical aid cover provided by private players.
The NHIS is in line with Zimbabwe’s programmes to fulfil the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in the health sector.
Trade unions have opposed the NHIS, arguing that it would further strain Zimbabwe’s workers.
Many African countries have health insurance for those who are on the fringes of the mainstream economy and those who are unemployed.
South Africa’s government last year proposed setting up National Health Insurance with a single, compulsory medical scheme for all, with private medical schemes offering “complementary services”.
All citizens and permanent residents will be covered by South Africa’s NHI, while a special fund will be set up for refugees.
Documented asylum-seekers will be able to access emergency care.