Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s plans for a uniform tariff for healthcare services may prompt doctors to quit the profession or seek jobs overseas, says South African Private Practitioners Forum CEO Chris Archer.
The Medical Schemes Amendment Bill, presented to a Cabinet committee last Tuesday, contains proposals that would introduce a uniform tariff for healthcare providers and put an end to co-payments. Business Day reports that according to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the intention was to provide greater certainty for consumers and medical schemes.
At present there are no regulations governing the rates that doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers charge. The report says that this means that two patients who receive identical services may receive different bills and face different out-of-pocket expenses depending on the bargaining power of the medical scheme they belong to, and the rules of the option they choose. If they are presented with a bill for a consultation or procedure that is more than the scheme is willing to pay, they will be liable for the balance.
The South African Private Practitioners Forum, which represents doctors in private practice, is quoted in the report as saying it was not opposed to a tariff guideline provided it was based on the cost of running a practice. However, doctors should be permitted to charge higher rates if they had good reason to do so, said forum CEO Chris Archer.
“What are they going to use to inform the process (of determining tariffs)? If it is just a thumb-suck, it will cause untold damage to the private sector and a lot of young doctors will be forced into some other form of enterprise or to emigrate. You cannot provide a service below cost,” Archer said.
Read original article here