South Africa’s shocking hospital costs

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that the fees charged by South African private hospitals are among the highest in the world, on par with countries including Germany, the UK, and France.

News24 reported that the country spent 41.8% of total health expenditure on private, voluntary health insurance, more than any OECD country.

However, only 17% of the population, mostly those with high incomes, could afford private insurance.

“Private hospital prices in South Africa are on par with prices in countries with much higher GDP levels – including the United Kingdom, Germany and France,” said Francesca Colombo, head of the WHO and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) health division.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Wednesday that the price of private healthcare in South Africa has increased by 300% in the last 10 years, moving from R42 billion in 2002 to R142 billion in 2014.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a Health Market Inquiry under way in Pretoria to find a way to make healthcare affordable for all South Africans.

Motsoaledi said he was surprised to hear people question the amount it would cost to implement the National Health Insurance scheme currently in the pipeline, while not questioning the current medical aid schemes.

“When we released the white paper, people asked why can’t we release the figures and said it’s going to be expensive, while there is already an expensive system staring them in the eyes,” he said.

“In 2002, the total expenditure of private health care was R42 billion. In 2014, it was R142 billion. It increased by 300% in a decade. If it continues like that, in another decade it will be half a trillion rand.”

The Competition Commission of SA is conducting a market inquiry in the private healthcare sector in terms of Chapter 4A of the Competition Act, 89 of 1998.

It seeks to “implement measures to increase market transparency” and “advise, and receive advice from, any regulatory authority”.

Reporting with News24

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South Africa’s shocking hospital costs