Johannesburg - The SA Dental Association said on Sunday it was dismayed by tariff guidelines for 2012, announced by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) earlier in the week.
The announcement had taken Sada by surprise, spokesperson Maretha Smit said in a statement.
The HPCSA had met with both Sada and the SA Medical Association earlier in the year.
"It is now evident that these meetings were merely an attempt to tick the box of consultation and were not in any way conducted in good faith," Smit said.
The HPCSA had not followed up with Sada in determining the tariffs.
"It is upsetting to note that none of the suggestions made by Sada was taken into account in establishing a tariff guideline," she said.
The Consumer Price Index, which measures general inflation, had been used to calculate increases on the 2006 national health reference price list.
In 2010 courts declared the 2007 price list, based on the 2006 list, invalid.
The 2012 price list was the first price list published since then.
The HPCSA appeared to have purposely avoided using the approved professional fees as a basis for the guideline, Sada said.
The 2012 tariff guidelines, published by the HPCSA, were on average between 30% and 40% lower than the published HPCSA fees for dental practitioners in 2006.
Over the past five years, costs had increased for dental practices, making the current tariff structure inappropriate.
"The high outlay for basic equipment, and the staggering costs of overheads and materials, most of which are imported from abroad, with the debilitating impact of exchange rate fluctuations, leaves very little room for a fee for the dentist's own professional work," she said.
Dental practices consumed large amounts of electricity and water to power instruments, and these costs had also gone up. Since 2006, new procedures had been developed, and these needed to be added to the tariff guidelines.
Sada was concerned about public perceptions and intended to challenge the HPCSA's tariffs.
Tariff guidelines were intended to protect patients from being overcharged, Business Day reported on Wednesday.
"It is hoped that this new guideline will empower patients to understand what they will be charged for... treatments and procedures in a transparent manner," HPCSA spokesperson Bertha Scheepers said.
It would also provide guidance for practitioners, so that their patients could be forewarned of the prices of treatments, and not accuse the medical fraternity of overcharging them.
While the tariffs did not set limits on what doctors, dentists and specialists could charge for their services, patients would be able to make an informed decision based on the guide.
"They can shop around for the best price, or decide they are willing to pay an amount higher than the tariff guideline by signing a consent form," Scheepers said.
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