Cape Town - The Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) is under fire after its chief executive, Dr Humphrey Zokufa, declared that private hospital tariffs were bordering on extortion.
Zokufa has been quoted in the latest Financial Mail, where he declared that the blame for rising hospital costs can be laid at the door of an "oligopoly consisting of Medi-Clinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare".
He told Sake24 his remarks should be seen within context: "In the absence of a transparent system there will always be the perception that their tariffs border on extortion, because we don't know how their tariffs are determined.
"As a funding industry we cannot therefore say that we are getting value for money."
Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa) chief executive Kurt Worrall-Clare reckons Zokufa's comments reflect a lack of information.
"The private sector has published research on hospital costs. To date the BHF has not accepted our offer to discuss its concern.
"Zokufa's remarks are very negative against the background that the healthcare industry is going through a critical period. With a national health insurance scheme on the agenda, the whole industry needs to focus on making a positive contribution. Why should we now start pointing fingers?"
International research by the Monitor Group in 2004 rated South Africa's private hospital sector fifth globally in terms of quality and performance.
Zokufa's remarks come at a trying time for the BHF after its largest member, Discovery Health Medical Scheme, terminated its membership at the end of last year, losing the BHF its largest funder.
It is possible that a new group to represent the medical funding industry could soon emerge.
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