Johannesburg - Tax deductions for the National Health Insurance (NHI) may start in 2012, even if rural areas only were going to benefit initially, a senior government official said on Friday.
"Every single South African is going to be making a contribution," said Olive Shisana, chairperson of the ministerial advisory committee dealing with implementing the NHI.
The government needed at least another R11bn to start implementing the NHI by 2012, she said. But it has said the NHI would be phased in over 14 years, with rollout starting in 2012 in underserved rural areas.
Asked when the NHI taxation would start, Shisana replied: "There is a shortfall of R11bn in order for us to be able to start... it becomes obvious... (that taxation) will start in 2012.
"I'm saying we're expecting to fill the gap in 2012, but if the economy grows very well, you never know. I'm sure it (when taxation will start) will be in the legislation," she said.
Shisana was addressing the media at a press conference in Johannesburg, where the SA Medical Association (Sama) was hosting a health conference.
Earlier, health department director general Malebona Matsoso said the public would not yet see a dramatic difference in the health system in 2012.
"We don't have a big bang approach," she said.
The NHI would start in 2012, with health teams visiting people in rural areas to assess their health needs and provide transport to health facilities if necessary.
Also by 2012, government planned to have all vacant posts in the public health system filled, Matsoso said.