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South African Journal of Bioethics and Law

On-line version ISSN 1999-7639


MCQUOID-MASON, D. Is there a legal and ethical duty on doctors to inform patients of the likely co-payment costs should they be treated by practitioners who have contracted out of medical scheme rates?. SAJBL [online]. 2023, vol.16, n.3, pp.84-87. ISSN 1999-7639.

A hypothetical scenario is presented in which a female patient is admitted to a private hospital to undergo a mastectomy and breast reconstruction. The surgeons and anaesthetists conducting the different procedures charge three times the medical aid rates. When the patient asks what the co-payments are likely to be, she is informed by the doctors' accounts section that they can only provide this information after each procedure. The patient's medical scheme also advises her that it cannot determine the likely co-payments unless she completes the assessment form sent to her. The form requires her to include the costs reflected against the relevant ICD10 codes. The patient cannot complete the form because the doctors' accounts sections have not informed her about the proposed procedures and the likely costs of each. This article builds on a previous article discussing doctors' overarching responsibility to disclose medical treatment costs in advance. The present article outlines the legal requirements in the South African Constitution, the National Health Act and the Health Professions Act, and refers to the Promotion of Access to Information Act and Consumer Protection Act. Similar to the earlier article, this article addresses the ethical requirements of the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the internationally recognised biomedical ethical principles. Furthermore, it also refers to the National Patients Charter, the government's policy document on health care services.

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