Health Minister To Present National Health Insurance Bill in parliament in July

By Kuda Pembere

The Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) is preparing to table the much anticipated National Health Insurance Bill in Parliament come July this year, HealthTimes has learnt.

While in a previous interview with this publication, the Health and Child Care Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora had promised the NHI would be rolled out by July this year, Zimbabweans may have to wait a bit longer as this is the time the NHI bill to govern the scheme’s operationalization may be presented to Parliament.

So these are proposals that we are coming up with and we’ll do stakeholder consultations also to hear what the public thinks. Afterwards, we will present that hopefully before the end of July, I should take it to parliament and then we should come up with an Act if Parliament approves the Bill,” the Health Minister briefed the media on Friday.

According to Dr. Mombeshora, Zimbabweans will have to finance this NHI fund themselves via what he called point-of-service taxes.

“And that payment should then be met by the National Health Insurance, which is a fund which we are trying to see how it’s established. So some of the main issues that we discussed here was to say, how do we build that fund? Where does the money come from? So there were quite a number of suggestions to say, certain taxes suggested to be collected at the point of service would be the easiest way, rather than burdening citizens with taxes again from their earnings directly.”

The Minister said the NHI was birthed from the realization that over 90 percent of Zimbabweans have been bled by huge out of pocket bills they foot.

“This was a meeting to discuss the progress that has taken place in establishing the National Health Insurance. As you know, we are striving to say by 2030 there should be universal access to health as a right. We have identified a few hindrances to this and one of the major hindrances is about health financing.

“People have been paying, a lot of people pay out of pocket to finance their health needs. Medical aid covers only about 10%, 8% to 10 percent and government is supposed to meet the difference,” Dr Mombeshora said.

He added Hospitals are being constrained by the gap that should be covered by such an NHI fund.

“We have issues like children under the age of 5 who are supposed to access free medical care in our public institutions. Elderly people above the age of 65, mental health issues are supposed also to be treated for free.

“Maternity issues, but we have seen the gap that at times we say it’s free, but it’s not free because somebody is supposed to pay for that. So our health institutions are suffering because that gap is not being covered.

“So we came up with this idea of the National Health Insurance, which should then allow all Zimbabwean citizens to access medical services in our public institutions without requirement for upfront payment.

“And that payment should then be met by the National Health Insurance, which is a fund which we are trying to see how it’s established,” he said.




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