CAPE TOWN, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's National Health Insurance (NHI) bill, designed to provide universal healthcare, has been forwarded to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Health for deliberation, it was announced on Monday.
The committee will meet and discuss the program of the NHI bill, which will have an extensive public consultation process, Committee Chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo said.
This is part of the parliamentary process for a bill to be passed.
Once the committee finishes its deliberation, the bill will be presented to Parliament for adoption.
Under the NHI, the government will provide a package of comprehensive health services for free at private and public health facilities as part of its bid to provide more equitable access to quality healthcare, according to Dhlomo.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize last week tabled the NHI bill to Parliament. As the first step, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Health has to deliberate on the bill so that the public can comment.
Mkhize said then that health insurance envisaged by the bill covers a wide range of people, including inmates, refugees, permanent residents and all children in South Africa.
Non-citizens may also benefit from the bill, and asylum-seekers and illegal foreigners will only be entitled to emergency medical services and services for notifiable conditions of public health concern, such as HIV or tuberculosis (TB).
"The NHI will benefit all South African citizens, permanent residents, refugees, inmates, designated foreign nationals and all children," Mkhize said. "So long as the system is accessed at the appropriate level of entry and the correct referral pathway is followed, services will be free at the point of care."
This will be done through the establishment of the NHI Fund, according to the minister.