|NSSA awaits directive on health insurance scheme|
|Wednesday, 06 March 2013 17:37|
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is waiting for direction from the government on the way forward concerning the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, general manager Mr James Matiza said yesterday.
He said the authority had by 2007 gone as far as drafting a Statutory Instrument to operationalise the scheme.
Parliament in 2008 ordered NSSA to suspend introducing the scheme following an outcry from both industry and labour who argued that its timing was wrong as workers were already overburdened with other compulsory deductions.
This followed public hearings that the Portfolio Committees on Health and Labour and Social Services conducted to provide the public and other stakeholders an opportunity to air their views on the proposed scheme.
Following adoption of multiple currencies in 2009 and the accompanying economic stability, NSSA has been considering revisiting debate on the scheme with its assessments in 2011 concluding that this year the situation would be suitable to introduce it.
“It was felt that, at that time because of the prevailing economic conditions, it would be difficult to implement the scheme. So, the whole implementation process was put on hold. NSSA is now waiting for direction from Government on the way forward regarding the scheme,” he said.
“NSSA has provided all the information which it is using on the scheme to the relevant ministries. NSSA is therefore waiting for the ministries’ advice on the implementation of the scheme.”
Mr Matiza said the ball was now in the court of the government to advise it on the way forward concerning the implementation of NHI scheme.
The proposed insurance scheme would co-exist with private medical aid schemes, and by paying only 25 percent of their current contributions, workers would receive the same benefits offered under the current Basic Cover Medical Aid Scheme.
NSSA has argued that the current private health schemes only cover 30-percent of the workers, leaving the remaining 70 percent uninsured and without access to affordable treatment in the event of a health crisis.
All workers, including those with their own medical insurance with companies such as CIMAS and PSMAS, would be compelled to contribute 5 percent of their salaries to the NSSA scheme, with employers topping it with another 5 percent.
When it was first mooted in 2007, the health delivery system was crumbling under debilitating economic sanctions that Western countries had imposed as retribution for implementing agrarian reforms and the plan was designed to augment the funding of public hospitals as normal financing from the fiscus was inadequate.
It was envisaged that the money would be used to buy medication and fund operations of all government hospitals with the aim that with time the government would be concentrating on salaries and conditions of service for health personnel while NSSA dealt with the procurement of drugs using money from the taxpayers’ contributions. — New Ziana