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Are medical aids interfering with patient treatment?

The Competition Commission will assess the role medical aid plays in preventing access to quality healthcare.

Medical aid schemes are accused of interfering in the ability of doctors to treat patients. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Society of Cardiovascular Intervention says increasing levels of interference by medical aid schemes are preventing the ability of doctors to adequately treat patients.

This week, the Competition Commission held public hearings on the state of private healthcare in South Africa, inviting members of the public to come forward with their own experiences.

Among the factors being assessed are the costs of private healthcare and the role medical aid providers play in preventing access to quality healthcare.

There are claims that medical aid schemes often refuse to pay out the full cost of treatment even when they are legally liable.

Society president, Dave Kettle says although schemes are often trying to protect themselves from exploitation, they must let doctors decide on the best treatment for patients.

"Is it really the role of an insurance company to decide how doctors treat their patients? Yes, we must be cost conscious, we must try to be very cost effective, but we do need to make sure that contemporary technology [and] treatment albeit expensive ones, are available to patients."