Health costs depend on who’s talking

2012-08-25 14:11

The inquiry into private healthcare in South Africa will reveal what many have been asking about the fees charged by private hospitals.

Although the terms of reference are yet to be finalised, it is clear the cost of healthcare will dominate discussions.

The past few months have given us insight into what we can expect on the inquiry’s agenda.

In all the public spats and court cases between medical schemes, health practitioners, government, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and ordinary people, pricing is at the centre of the dispute.

Doctors say they are charging what they deserve, schemes say they will pay doctors what they deem fit, the HPCSA has other figures, government says doctors are over-charging and must be regulated – and ordinary people are caught between a rock and a hard place.

So maybe the inquiry will shed some light on what you and I should do, and possibly come up with a solution that will benefit us and those who nurse us back to health.

This week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said he was happy the commission was planning to open an inquiry because it would prove that he was not lying when he says private healthcare in this country
was very expensive.

He mentioned a number of complaints his office received from disgruntled patients who believed they were ripped off and whose schemes are refusing to pay the full amount demanded by doctors and hospitals.

Private hospitals and doctors also pleaded their case, explaining that various factors influenced the cost of healthcare in the industry.

They argue that their prices are not as high as the department claims but said it was illegal to divulge their pricing.

You and I can only listen to what each party says until the findings of the market inquiry are revealed.


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