The SAMA Board has decided to
withdraw the results of the 2017/2018 Practice Cost Study conducted last year
among GPs and specialists. According to SAMA Chair, Dr Angelique Coetzee the decision
to withdraw the results was made because all disciplines were not statistically
represented.

“Where there is statistically enough evidence, those results
are not null and void. The practice cost study was never meant to be a billing
guide to be used by either funders or DOH,” Dr Coetzee told MedBrief Africa.
She encouraged doctors to bill according to their own practice expenses.

The studies were commissioned by SAMA and conducted by a
Consortium consisting of HealthMan, PPOServe and Medical Practice Consulting
from 2017-2018. The results were published in October last year, but the
previous SAMA board was apparently advised not to release the report although
it was published on SAMA’s website.

HealthMan CEO, Casper Venter has voiced his surprise at SAMA’s
decision, saying that the Consortium was not aware that the Board was advised
against the publication of the results despite several meetings with SAMA’s Legal
Department as well as the association’s attorneys.

In a letter to Dr Coetzee, Venter indicated that the Association
authorised the Consortium to release the report to participating doctor groups.

According to Venter, the decision to suddenly withdraw the
results seems “sinister and irresponsible”.

Venter says it is also incorrect to now bring a fee
determination argument as a reason for withdrawal.

“It was never the intention to use the report as a basis to
determine either scheme fees, or fees that could be set by Government. The SAMA
Attorneys were very clear on that, as was The Health Market Inquiry
Directorate. We were therefor at pains to make no reference to a “tariff
setting determination” process at all,” Venter added.

He says although all disciplines that participated did not
have representative samples, it doesn’t make the results invalid or of no use.

The study found that GPs together with anaesthetists and
psychiatrists have the lowest overall costs, whereas surgical disciplines have
the highest operating costs driven by, among others, higher indemnity
insurance, equipment and staff costs.