Govt revives interest in national health scheme

via Govt revives interest in national health scheme | The Herald November 13, 2015

Government has revived interest in coming up with a National Health Insurance Scheme that it says would facilitate universal healthcare cover for the majority of Zimbabweans.

It contends that only 10 percent of Zimbabweans are covered by medical aid societies, yet the National Health Insurance Scheme would see the majority, if not all Zimbabweans, accessing decent medical care.

Workers will be taxed to finance the scheme through the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).

The scheme was initially mooted in 2007 but was shot down by workers and parliamentarians arguing that it would further strain overtaxed workers since the initial proposal was to tax workers five percent.

But Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira, told The Herald on Wednesday that Government wanted the scheme to proceed.

“The National Health Insurance Scheme is part of social protection and given that my ministry is mandated to ensure that there is social protection, the insurance seeks to cater for the majority if not all the citizens,” said Minister Mupfumira.

“A lot of people are not on health care cover with only 10 percent covered by all the medical aid societies.

“As a result, we have to address the anomaly. We want every Zimbabwean including smallholder farmers and those in the informal sector to have access to healthcare cover.”

Minister Mupfumira said they were consulting relevant stakeholders before taking the proposals to Cabinet.

She said the scheme presented an opportunity for the majority to access healthcare.

“We have already asked the Ministry of Health and Child Care to give us their input. I will take the inputs to the tripartite negotiating forum. Whatever I get from there, I will take to Cabinet and then we will draft a Bill that will be brought before Parliament.

“We want all Zimbabweans to have access to treatment so for that reason the contributions will be very small compared to what they are paying to medical aid societies.

“We want to ensure that every Zimbabwean has access to health care whether they are farm labourers or in the informal sector.

“We already have the document that outlines how the National Health Insurance will work,” said Minister Mupfumira.

She said other countries in the sadc region among them South Africa and Tanzania had already adopted the scheme. The Government, together with NSSA, had hoped to launch the insurance scheme in 2007 but was shot down by Parliamentarians and the general public who argued that the scheme would further strain the already overtaxed employees.

The proposed insurance scheme was expected to co-exist with private medical aid schemes.

Workers already have 3 percent of their income deducted towards the Aids Levy while those on medical aid schemes are forking out hundreds of dollars depending on their scheme.