Johannesburg - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has called for the reversal of a competition ruling so that medical schemes are allowed to negotiate prices with service providers, in a bid to lower healthcare costs, the Star newspaper reported Tuesday.
Motsoaledi said prices in private healthcare were "abnormal and unacceptable", the paper reported.
He said the source of this problem was a 2004 Competition Commission ruling that prevented medical schemes from negotiating and setting prices with service providers.
"Being in a hospital now is like being in a supermarket but at least in a supermarket you are certain of prices.
"That ruling was a terrible ruling. It brought so much uncertainty," Motsoaledi said.
He said spiralling costs had led medical schemes to set tariffs that did not even cover half the cost of procedures. Motsoaledi said he saw one invoice in which a scheme only paid R5 000 of a R19 000 procedure.
"What is the use of having a medical scheme if you have to pay that much? But I'm not able to blame a medical scheme for that because I understand where they are coming from," Motsoaledi said.