Before you can go looking for cheap medical aid cover, have you asked why medical specialist charge so much? There is no question about it, medical care is extremely expensive. On the one hand, it is a business that must show profit. The costs of running a hospital in line with the laws made by the health department, an effective personnel department, and keeping it medico-legally safe, is quite enormous. The kind of medicine, sterility and safety precautions, technology, and level of skilled staff used in the ICU and theatre. All of this just to keep a patient alive demands an immense budget.
Many people think that doctors’ fees are unfair and unethical. What you need to understand is, doctors don’t become rich off of a patient’s money, their accounts make out a tiny portion of medical hospital expenses. Unfortunately, more and more patients have to pay this portion now as medical aids pay less and fewer doctors’ fees each year.
The extra fees that your doctor charges are for other reasons and not to make themselves rich as the public believes. Another problem is the fact that medical aids never keep up with inflation. Inflation increases by 5.5% per year while medical aid payments increase by 14% per year. What happened to the other 8.5%?
When specialists like anaesthetists bill you within the medical aid rates, they earn an hourly rate of 25% that of a lawyer and 33% of a private engineer. This is after they’ve studied for at least 13 years and only started to earn an income at the age of 35.
They also have to keep patients alive during operations and in ICU, have other daily responsibilities and still have to run a business all at the same time. As you can see, this is ludicrous. As this is the private sector, a doctor’s income doesn’t go to his pocket as some might think.
A doctor’s earnings need to cover the whole of his business expenses like the staff, equipment and premises, medico-legal cover and retirement as a doctor doesn’t have a pension fund. Also, a specialist’s income stops the moment they take leave, while the costs of living continue for them. They can only go on leave after long hours of work in a profession with high levels of stress.
Due to the rates that medical aids pay doctors, they’re forced to charge above medical aid rates and so, the patient is stuck with these expenses. There are very little anaesthetic practices that never charge above medical aid rates to save costs for a patient.
The reason being, they can’t contract anaesthetists or even locums to join their businesses to help them grow, because they can’t pay them enough. Now, these businesses can’t provide enough anaesthetic services in they’re regions.
These are just some of the reasons specialists charge as much as they do. To make a living themselves and also to provide for their own retirement.