Specialist and private hospital claims soar

http://www.persfin.co.za September 9 2012 By Laura du Preez The greatest portion of your medical scheme contributions was again last year spent on private hospitals’ and medical specialists’ bills, the Council for Medical Schemes’s latest annual report shows. And the amounts spent on these healthcare providers continue to increase at rates higher than Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation, the report for 2011/12 states. Hospitals were paid R34.1 billion, or 36.6 percent of all healthcare benefits paid. Of this amount, R33.8 billion was paid to private hospitals – an increase of 9.7 percent on the R30.8 billion paid in 2010. There has been a real (after-inflation) increase of 129.9 percent in the amount spent on private hospitals since 2000, the report states. Private hospital expenditure in 2000 accounted for less than 30 percent of all the benefits paid by schemes. Last year, medical specialists were paid R21.3 billion, or 22.8 percent of the healthcare benefits, an increase of 13.5 percent on the 2010 amount. Benefits paid to medical specialists have increased by 121.9 percent in real terms since 2000, the report notes. The percentage of all benefits spent on medical specialists has been increasing since 2003, when the amount spent on these practitioners was less than 20 percent. Earlier this month, the Hospital Association of South Africa commissioned Econex, which consults on health economics, to analyse the increase in hospital costs. Econex reported that only 40 percent of the increases in what medical schemes spend on private hospitals can be attributed to price inflation. It said an analysis of data from the three largest hospital groups showed that there was an...