Introducing a national health insurance system in South Africa: A general practitioner’s bottom-up approach to costing

Shabir Moosa, John M Luiz, Teresa Carmichael


Background. The introduction of national health insurance (NHI) is an important debate in South Africa, with affordability and institutional capacity being the key issues. NHI costing has been dominated by estimates of exorbitant cost. However, capitation is not only a different payment system but also a different service delivery model, and as a result there are opportunities for risk management and efficiencies.

Objective. This study explores how private general practitioners (GPs) may choose to embrace these service delivery concepts and deal with the cost implications to meet NHI requirements.
Methods. Data were collected from 598 solo private GPs through a self-administered online questionnaire survey across South Africa.

Results. In spite of poor engagement with the public sector, and some challenges in costing and organisation, GPs appear to have an affordable and pro-active response to NHI capitation costing and fee setting. On average, they would accept a minimum global fee of R4.03 million to look after a population of 10 000 people for personal healthcare services.

Conclusion. At a total cost to the country of R16.9 billion, government could affordably use GPs to develop the primary health care part of NHI to cover the entire South African uninsured population. It is anticipated that a similar approach would be successful in other developing countries.

Authors' affiliations

Shabir Moosa, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

John M Luiz, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town

Teresa Carmichael, Wits Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Full Text



National health insurance; General practitioners; public policy

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(10):794-797. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6072

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-06-18
Date published: 2012-08-01

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