You’ve probably heard the news buzzing with these three letters recently. The NHI is still far from a reality, but this is what you have to know so far. 

What is it?

The National Healthcare Insurance (NHI) is a financing system that will provide all citizens of South Africa (and legal long-term residents) with essential healthcare, regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution to the NHI Fund. (

The NHI will provide "comprehensive healthcare services" but which services will be offered remains to be seen. A benefits advisory committee, appointed by the health minister, will still decide on that. The Bill says these services will be available for free, so there will be no co-payments.


What it aims to achieve?

The NHI will offer all South Africans and legal residents access to comprehensive health services. The state aims to offer as wide a range of services as possible, but it will not include services deemed “unnecessary or not medically indicated”. It will, however, aim to offer care at all levels, from primary health care to specialised secondary care, and highly specialised tertiary and quaternary levels of care.

“The intention of NHI is rather to make sure that citizens are able to use both the public and private sectors in such a way that they complement each other rather than one undermining the other. At the present moment, private healthcare is only for the rich. The NHI is trying to blend the two in a more sustainable manner that benefits the population.” (


How will it affect you?

A tax may be implemented in order to fund the NHI, so depending if you’re already forking out a bunch of bucks for private medical aid, you might start feeling the pinch when the NHI comes into full effect. 

According to Jackie Cameron: “One of the biggest problems for those of us used to private medical care is that everyone is going to be compelled to register with, (yes, all 59m of us) and go to, a clinic and wait to be referred to a hospital or specialist (of their choice) or the NHI will not cover the costs.” 

So, the need for a comprehensive healthcare plan will be eliminated and you will be able to opt-in for “top-up” or “gap cover” plans that will give you more choice in which practitioner you will be able to see and which procedures will be covered with a private insurance scheme. 

When will it come into effect?

The NHI is currently in Phase 2 (of 3) of Implementation and the Government plans to have it fully implemented by 2025. 


While we patiently wait to find out whether this is going to be successfully implemented, use your bsmart card to pay for your eye test or to pay for your prescription meds. Click here and search for practitioners in your area: Use the keywords ‘chemists’, ‘eye-spectacle’ and ‘medical’ to filter your search.

Head to our blog for some more tips and tricks to help you save smart, spend smart and live smart.

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