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Universal healthcare for South Africa

South Africa is doing what has eluded the United States for years -- moving towards universal healthcare aiming to make access to healthcare for the poorest communities possible.

"South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), plans to mandate universal access to healthcare through a National Health Insurance Scheme. The ANC’s National Health Insurance Scheme aims to ensure that access to healthcare is based on need rather than the ability to pay, with the intention of doing this through a single payer health insurance system. The initiative will take a community-centric approach, with a focus on local primary care networks rather than large-sized hospitals... The first phase of the project will be rolled out in 2012, and will focus primarily on bringing services to areas with little or no access to quality healthcare."

Implications from South Africa Node:

"Access to better healthcare for more South Africans will also mean more expensive private healthcare thus putting a squeeze on people at the top ('the rich'). As more African countries move toward middle-income status, we can expect a similar phenomenon."

Implications from Institute for the Future:

While most of the financing will come from different forms of taxation it will be interesting to see how this project will unfold in a country with unemployment of about 25%. Capacity of African hospitals, particularly in poor areas, is also unknown. If there is a huge surge in people seeking medical treatment due to new healthcare access, will the existing infrastructure be able to meet their needs? If not, universal healthcare may end up decreasing the quality of healthcare affordable to the average South Africans and create a wider gap between benefits of the rich and poor.

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South African Node October 2010 Pg. 10: