A DEBATE on National Health Insurance (NHI) should not be done in haste, the South African Medical Association said on Wednesday.
Association chairperson Norman Mabasa said: “We believe any debate should be given adequate time and we support and will robustly participate in such a debate on NHI.
"Without consensus and a buy-in from all on how to achieve universal access to health care, any system will be doomed to failure."
Mabasa said Sama, which represents public and private sector medical practitioners, was "unequivocally committed" to the principle of universal access to health care.
The organisation, he said, was studying the ANC's NHI document released at its national general council in Durban last week.
"Reports to the contrary that suggested that we are against this or that the ANC national general council document is without merit are inaccurate," he said in a statement.
"However we do encourage that processes in place, such as the Ministerial Advisory Committee, are allowed to continue and as such complete its work and advise the minister on its recommendations."
According to the ANC's proposals, the programme was expected to cost R128bm in its first year and increase to R376bm by 2025.
The party wants the NHI to be phased in over 14 years, starting from 2012 in areas where people have difficulty accessing health care.
Membership to the NHI would be compulsory for the whole population but the public could choose whether to continue with voluntary medical scheme cover.
The proposal suggests the NHI be funded from various sources including a surcharge on taxable income, payroll taxes for employees and employers, and an increase in value added tax, which is earmarked for the NHI.