Business Day Spotlight | Tax payers brace themselves for NHI

In this edition of Business Day Spotlight, our focus is on the SA economy, continued pressure on consumers and the National Heath Insurance (NHI) bill.

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined on the line by Mike Schüssler, Chief Economist at Economists.co.za to discuss the results of the BankservAfrica economic transactions index (BETI).

BankservAfrica, the largest automated payments clearing house in Africa, released its monthly economic transactions index for July on Wednesday. For July, the value of economic transactions showed no monthly change which reflects the persisting stagnant state of the South African economy.

In this discussion, Schüssler explains how the BETI is constructed, what data is considered and gives insights around what the results reveal and mean.

The BETI is a 'now indicator' of broad economic activity in South Africa, says Schüssler, explaining that in addition to annual and quarterly measures, there is a more in the industry for more immediate economic reporting.

The discussion then turns to the economic implications of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill. What will this mean for SA? Can the fiscus realistically support such a program?

The NHI bill, tabled in parliament on Thursday last week, paves the way for the establishment of a central NHI Fund that will purchase services on behalf of the entire population. In terms of the bill, medical schemes will ultimately be limited to only offering cover for benefits not provided by the fund. The bill makes no provision for scheme administrators.

Investors in healthcare stocks on the JSE saw value destruction of about R14bn in the three days of trading after the announcement as the market grapples with the possible effect of the government reforms to the sector.

Schüssler says more should be done to ensure the plan is robust, advocating for example, that the country needs more medical professionals. The government could potentially make healthcare free and accessible to all but it
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