Perceptions of and support for national health insurance in South Africa’s public and private healthcare sectors
AbstractIntroduction: For the purpose of effective implementation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) policy it is necessary to have an understanding of the awareness and perceptions of and support for such policy among clients using the healthcare system.
Methods: The South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey asked household heads a series of questions on healthcare utilisation and access and collected information on knowledge and perceptions of and support for national health insurance. Comparisons are drawn between private sector healthcare users with medical aid and public sector healthcare users without medical aid, using descriptive and regression analysis.
Results: Inequalities in access to quality healthcare remain stark. Only 8.5% of private users had postponed seeking healthcare compared to 23.9% of public users (p < 0.001). Only 11.9% of public users were very satisfied with the quality of healthcare services compared to 50.2% of private users (p < 0.001). More than eighty percent of healthcare users however were of the opinion that NHI is a top priority. However, for healthcare users to sacrifice choice required a national health insurance that provides better quality healthcare, increasing the probability of support for an NHI with lower cost and full coverage by 10.1%.
Conclusion: It is imperative to provide better quality healthcare services in the public sector for private sector users to be supportive of national health insurance. Concerted efforts are also required to develop a proper communication strategy to disseminate information on and garner support for national health insurance, both in the public and private healthcare sectors.
Keywords: Healthcare, medical aid, national health insurance, South Africa