The Ministry of Health is concerned about the reports of inappropriate inflation of private health care costs allegedly involving some providers in this sector. The allegations are part of the reports emerging from the Board of Healthcare Funders conference in Sun City in which the Ministry and Department of Health actively participated.
During her opening address to the conference on Monday (July 23), the Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang raised concerns about the costs of private healthcare. The Ministry believes that if it is true, the reported practice directly undermines our Constitutional obligation to improve access to healthcare.
The Minister told the conference that the cost of healthcare in the Private Health sector in South Africa was high.
?It is concerning to note that while we observed a 8.8% decline in the expenditure on medicines dispensed by pharmacists and providers other than hospitals compared to 2004 (as a result of medicine pricing regulations), there was an increase in hospital expenditure from R11 billion in 2001 to R16.1 billion in 2004/5.
?There was also an increase in Specialists and total non-healthcare costs. So clearly the private healthcare funding industry paid 12.1% more for services in 2005/6 compared to the previous year (R45.8billion in 2005/6 compared to R40.8billion the previous year),? said Minister Tshabalala-Msimang.
The Minister said the Department of Health was embarking on initiatives aimed at addressing various challenges in the private health sector including high cost.
?We are setting up a legislative framework relating to the reference price list which will determine the cost of health services. We are also establishing the Office of Standards as provided for in the National Health Act to critically look at the quality issues,? said Minister Tshabalala-Msimang.