Tariff Guidelines for medical, dental services delayed

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pretoria - The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) has announced a delay in the publication of the new Guideline Tariffs for medical and dental services.

The Guideline Tariffs will serve to protect the public and guide healthcare practitioners on the rendering of accounts in terms of the prescribed ethical guidelines.

HPCSA Professor Mochichi Sam Mokgokong said the delay in the publication was due to:
* consideration of the reaction of the practitioners on the Tariff Guidelines;
* accusations of the HPCSA determining the Tariff Guidelines without regard to the input of the practitioner organisations affected;
* the institution of legal action against HPCSA by affected practitioner; organisations should the Guideline Tariffs be publicised in the Government Gazette; and
* the risk of destabilising health care delivery in the country.

"The halting of the process of publication of the Tariff Guidelines in the Government Gazette will ensure the matter of the Tariff Guidelines is placed on the agenda of the HPCSA Council meeting, which will be held on 3 September 2012 and allow the HPCSA Tariff Committee to make a full presentation of the matter to the council," said Professor Mokgokong.

Mokgokong added that the delay will allow the South African Medical Association and South African Dental Association and South African Private Practitioner's Forum representatives to put their views directly to the council and provide the council with the opportunity to adjudicate on the matter and to craft the way forward.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, HPCSA Ombudsman Dr Abdul Wahab Barday said the implementation of new Guideline Tariffs followed the scrapping of the HPCSA's Ethical Tariffs in 2008 and the subsequent declaration by the High Court invalidating the National Health Reference Price List, which led to the billing confusion prevalent in the healthcare industry over the last few years.

He said the need for the development of the Guideline Tariffs was based on complaints received from the public on the overcharging by practitioners in the absence of a recent guideline tariffs.

The Guideline Tariffs are intended to:
* Assist practitioners in ensuring their patients/clients are fully informed upfront of the fees of the service to be rendered;
* Obtain informed consent from patients/clients allowing health professionals to levy an agreed upon fee, which protects the practitioner and patient;
* Permit practitioners to set their fee schedules, provided informed consent has been obtained from patients/clients to charge the agreed upon fee;
* Ensure practitioners provide patients/clients with written evidence of their specific health professional fee to be charged as well as the HPCSA Guideline Tariff;
* Upon receipt of the quotation, obtain written informed consent from patients/clients by practitioners so that they are permitted to charge the agreed fee; and
* Require health professionals to keep a formal written record of the informed consent given by patients/clients in a format and language that is understandable to the patient/client.

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