Research Articles

The perceptions of general practitioners on National Health Insurance in Chris Hani district, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Mthetheleli Mbongeni Gaqavu, Robert Mash
South African Family Practice | Vol 61, No 3 : May/June| a4980 | DOI: | © 2019 Mthetheleli Mbongeni Gaqavu, Robert Mash | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 October 2019 | Published: 15 July 2019

About the author(s)

Mthetheleli Mbongeni Gaqavu, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Robert Mash, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

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Background: National Health Insurance (NHI) intends to provide universal health coverage to all South Africans, with equity and quality as its tenets. The participation of private general practitioners (GPs) in NHI is essential. The aim was to explore perceptions of GPs on NHI in Chris Hani district, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Methods: A descriptive phenomenological qualitative study using semi-structured individual interviews of 12 GPs from six municipalities was undertaken. Data analysis used the framework method assisted by Atlas.ti software.
Results: GPs in Chris Hani district felt that NHI would improve health and benefit society and be of particular benefit to poor and rural people as it will improve access to healthcare. Lack of governmental administrative capacity and a human resource plan were seen as barriers to implementation. They believed that NHI would benefit them through a single purchaser system and support more comprehensive care. GPs were concerned about a lack of information on primary care packages, accreditation, remuneration and patient allocation. They thought that NHI might disadvantage solo GPs. NHI implementation could be improved by actively engaging with GP organisations. Improvement of existing government health facilities and continued medical education were seen as possible ways to better implement NHI.
Conclusion: GPs in this study were generally positive about NHI and thought it would benefit both patients and providers. However, they had concerns regarding the capacity of government to implement NHI and the implications for solo GPs, and needed more information. Government needs to actively engage GPs.


general practice; national health insurance; primary care; primary health care; Universal health coverage


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