Treasury has allocated an additional R4.2-billion to the National Health Insurance (NHI), sticking to its guns on funding it through cutting tax credits.
In the budget tabled by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday, an additional R700-million was set aside for 2018/19, R1.4 billion for 2019/20 and R2.1 billion for 2020/21 – all to be funded through amendments to the medical tax subsidy.
Gigaba said: “Over the medium term, the NHI is allocated an additional R2.4-billion, funded through an amendment to the medical expenses tax subsidy.”
Gigaba said accelerating the roll-out of NHI was part of the government’s plan not only to increase social protection but to raise the life expectancy of South Africans to at least 70 years by 2030.
“Our social protection systems continue to protect the poorest and most vulnerable and the government has continued progressively on the path towards national health insurance,” said Gigaba.
Overall, the government would be spending R205-billion on health this coming financial year. This amount is estimated to grow to R240-billion by the 2020/21 financial year, the 2018 budget review document revealed.
“The health budget, which accounts for 13.9 percent of total spending, will grow at an average annual rate of 7.8 percent over the medium term. Of this amount, R125.9-billion will be for tertiary hospital services and R66.4-billion will support HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.”
A total of R368-million was allocated over the next three years to begin a public awareness campaign to complement the health levy on sugary beverages and to establish a health technology assessment unit.
“Government’s anti-retroviral treatment programme reaches 3.9 million people. To fully fund the expansion of the programme, R1 billion is added to the comprehensive HIV, AIDS and TB grant in 2020/21.”
The Community Health Worker Programme, which delivers home-based care to those living with HIV/AIDS and TB, was allocated R4.4 billion over the next three years.
In 2018/19, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, which replaces the Medicines Control Council, would be established as a public entity and would have the responsibility of regulating the registration, licensing, manufacturing and importing of active pharmaceutical ingredients, medicines and medical devices.
“The new authority will receive R396.9 million in transfers, and will generate revenue by collecting fees from the pharmaceutical and health products industry,” said Treasury.