The South African Medical Association (SAMA) says it hopes
to make the results of the Practice Cost Study (PCS) surveys conducted since August
last year available to its members as soon as possible, most probably within
the next two months.

SAMA commissioned a consortium consisting of HealthMan, PPO Serve
and Medical Practice Consulting (MPC) last year to conduct the studies and was
hoping to complete it by the beginning of this year. However, due to doctors’
initial reluctance to participate, the deadline for submissions had to be
extended several times to ensure that the information collected was truly
representative.  

According to SAMA, the Consortium provided it with a final
report on the study results at the end of June. SAMA has now finalised its
internal review of the report and submitted it to the association’s attorneys,
who are conducting a brief holistic review thereof from a legal perspective.
The report will then be submitted to the Health Market Inquiry (HMI) Panel of
the Competition Commission that has requested to see the document before it is
published and/or distributed. The HMI is expected to use the PCS as a basis for
its recommendations on tariff determination to the Department of Health.

SAPPF CEO, Dr Chris Archer earlier told Med Brief Africa
that the latest practice cost study surveys differed from those conducted
before the 2010 High Court ruling that declared the Reference Price List
process after 2007 null and void as they have been conducted by an independent
third party.

One of the main aims of the latest PCS is to establish a
median cost that will serve as a legitimate non-binding benchmark tariff for
most medical practices. The HMI Provisional Report released earlier this month
suggested the establishment of a Supply Side Regulator that will set tariffs
after extensive consultation with stakeholders in a public forum or a multilateral
price-setting mechanism where stakeholders conduct tariff negotiations and
reach agreement under a negotiation framework determined by the proposed new
regulator. According to the HMI’s recommendations, tariffs for Prescribed
Minimum Benefits (PMBs) should be binding and tariffs for non-PMB conditions should
have the status of reference tariffs.