Recession taking its toll on health

SOUTH Africa's first recession in 17 years could be to blame for an increasing number of stress-related illnesses, Pro Sano Medical Scheme said yesterday.

SOUTH Africa's first recession in 17 years could be to blame for an increasing number of stress-related illnesses, Pro Sano Medical Scheme said yesterday.

"Stress-related conditions could well be linked to the recession," said Dr James Arens, clinical operations executive of Pro Sano Medical Scheme.

Arens said a number of medical schemes had reported a significant change in claims patterns and it seemed medical aid claims were on the increase.

However, claims received in the first part of this year were almost as high as mid-year claims, which was "worrying", Arens said. He said the medical scheme had noted a significant increase in serious ailments requiring hospitalisation.

Arens said schemes had also noticed an increase in the number of people joining the scheme, undergoing expensive hospital procedures and then cancelling their medical scheme membership soon afterwards.

However, patients were not the only ones feeling the pinch. According to Arens, schemes were also noticing an increase in fraudulent claims.

"In these cases, what often happens is that a practitioner loads their bill, so that a legitimate procedure is padded with all sorts of additional codes ."

He said hospitals run as businesses were also feeling increased pressure to show profits. "There are many cases where the length of a hospital stay has increased by one or two days - for no apparent reason," he said. - Sapa

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