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Fraudulent medical claims blamed for spike in private healthcare costs

Health Dept says syndicates are making money from false or inflated medical malpractice suits.

FILE: Health Dept says syndicates are making money from false or inflated medical malpractice suits. Picture: Free Images.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says one of the reasons for a spike in the cost of private healthcare is increasing litigation against medical specialists prompted by doctors trying to protect themselves from legal action.

The department says the number of doctors pursuing specialist careers is also decreasing.

The minister says lawyers are trying to make money by inflating the amount of money claimed in medical malpractice suits.

As a result, doctors are having to increase efforts to protect themselves, which is affecting access to private healthcare as costs surge.

Motsoaledi says syndicates accused of making false or inflated claims have been identified.

"This syndicates include health workers, lawyers, even state law advisors and police. For instance, it's very common in hospitals that someone claiming money for litigation for a case that is not legal."

SA MAY FACE SHORTAGE OF GYNECOLOGISTS

Earlier, the Health Department said it fears South Africa may face a shortage of obstetricians to treat pregnant women within the next 10 years if exorbitant malpractice claims are not curbed.

Motsoaledi says more and more doctors are avoiding gynaecology and obstetrics due to the high rate of claims being brought forward.

The cost of indemnity insurance, a fee paid to cover doctors in case of lawsuits, has reportedly skyrocketed in recent years.

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