Medical doctors abandoning Botswana over pricing standoff
by Ruth Kedikilwe
The Chairman of the Medical Practitioners Group (MPG), Dr Anthony Sibiya, has stated that since the beginning of the pricing saga between medical aids and private health care givers, Botswana had lost some of its best medical specialists and some are still on the verge of leaving the country to find greener pastures. Sibiya confirmed the departure of a local specialist in pediatrics, Dr Montshiwa Montshiwa, stating that, “Two more are following suit, and I am sure that in the next months, more and more will go. This will also mean that those who are outside will be less likely to return home, and in the end, the very same medical aids will have been responsible for lowering standards of private medical care in Botswana.”
However, following a formal complaint by an umbrella of Private medical practitioners, including doctors, dentists and specialists towards the end of last year, the Botswana Competition Authority has finally given signs that they have indeed launched an investigation. Information reaching The Telegraph suggests that the officers from the Competition Authority are currently making enquiries regarding the matter and gathering the necessary information.
Medical practitioners who provide private health care had issued a complaint citing that the local medical aid service providers, Botsogo Health Plan, Pula Medical Aid, Botswana Medical Aid (BOMAID) and Botswana Public Officer’s Medical Aid Fund (BPOMAS), were setting tariffs which stifle competition among private practitioners in Botswana suggesting that it is a “collusive” act.
Sibiya also explained that the Competition Authority had embarked on a fact finding mission to ensure that there was nothing stifling competition.
“We do not want a cartel situation so the Competition Authority needs to ensure that there is no collusion and let the market decide on the prices set,” said Sibiya, further explaining that the controversial balanced billing method of payment had taken off despite the fact that some doctors went along with the tariffs set by medical aids.
Although the Communications Manager from the Competition Authority, Gideon Nkala, explained that the issue is still too sensitive to divulge, he said that once all the necessary information is collected, it will be brought before the Competition Commission/ Tribunal which will adjudicate and provide a ruling on the matter.