The claim that building more hospitals is one of the reasons for the steep increase in medical scheme contributions is not based on robust research, economists at Econex say.
Recently, both Discovery Health, which administers Discovery Health Medical Scheme, the country’s largest medical scheme, and the Government Employees Medical Scheme have attributed the steep increase in their hospital-related costs to, among other things, the opening of new hospitals in certain parts of the country.
But Marine (accent on e) Erasmus and Helen Kean say it is notoriously difficult to prove what economists call supplier-induced demand – in this case, that the provision of more hospital beds has resulted in more medical scheme members accessing healthcare services – and that it requires robust research.
Erasmus and Kean say doctors are generally the agents of hospitals, and hospitals cannot induce care.
They say a sustainable future for medical schemes requires a good understanding of what is driving their costs.