manto livid over tariffs

Zinhle Mapumulo

Zinhle Mapumulo

Private hospital groups say it is too early to tell whether they will be reducing their annual tariffs increase as ordered by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Tshabalala-Msimang had ordered that the groups reconsider what she called "an excessive annual increase in tariffs". This was after an uproar by medical aid schemes which condemned the intended increases.

The medical schemes reported to the department that private hospitals were charging exorbitant amounts and unwilling to negotiate tariffs that are affordable to its members.

This prompted Tshabalala-Msimang to call an urgent meeting with the private hospital groups to explain why the increases were necessary and the means for calculating the prices.

The hospital groups indicated that even if they wanted to change their tariffs increase, it was not going to be easy as they had already signed agreements with individual schemes and the tariffs had been implemented with effect from the beginning of this month.

The minister threatened to prosecute if the groups continued charging hefty tariffs.

Kurt Worral-Clare, spokesman for the groups, confirmed that they did commit to reconsidering the tariffs but said it was up to individual hospital groups to decide whether they will decrease the tariffs or not.

"At this stage, I cannot say if hospital groups will decrease their tariffs. The minister will be meeting with individual hospital groups in the next two weeks. This is where they will have to justify the increases."