More patients, particularly those who were injured in road accidents, prefer to use private over government hospitals, says the Chairman of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund, Freddie Modise.
In the 2014 annual report, he stated that the trend has caused the MVA an increase in expenses from P76million in 2013 to P122.4million in 2014.
“The increase in medical costs was mainly driven by the increase in high value claims and the shift in the claims profile, with claimants preferring to use private medical facilities over public hospitals,” he said.
In the report, Modise said that the reduction in December 2014 of fuel levy from nine thebe to five thebe has had a negative impact on the organisation’s performance, making it imperative to strengthen cost management strategies.
“The fund relies on investment income to meet its long-term obligations because the rising claims costs are not fully paid from the fuel levy income.
The shortfall has widened following the reduction of the fuel levy, and consequently the fund will review its investment strategies to develop opportunities to grow its investment income,” he said.
However, he said one of the MVA strategies is to participate in road maintenance at accident-prone spots particularly on major roads.
Modise said that the fund has also proposed legislative amendments of the MVA Fund Act, which include provision of lifetime medical care and support to victims who were seriously injured in road crashes, and to cover for citizens who were involved in accidents outside the country.
“The amendments will also review some of the monetary limits specified in the MVA Fund Act. The approval of these legislative amendments will significantly benefit the victims of road crashes and also the relevance of the Fund”.
The chief executive officer, Cross Kgosidiile, said that the MVA monitors the recovery of crash victims until they are fully rehabilitated.
“We continue to monitor the service standards on a weekly basis and provide immediate intervention where deviations are noted,” he said in the same report.
He also said that the escalating medical costs pose a challenge to the fund as they make up the bulk of the claims in the previous year, adding that there has been an increasing trend on cost-per-claim due to inflationary pressure.
“To help contain costs, the fund is formalising relationships with various stakeholders such as the medical fraternity and has successfully benefited from negotiated tariffs with the main private hospitals and emergency medical service providers,” Kgosidiile says in the report.
He added that to reduce the cost of taking victims or claimants to neighbouring countries, the MVA has appealed to the Ministry of Health for a possible collaboration in the setting up of a rehabilitation centre.
“The fund sees this as not only opportunity to improve the country’s infrastructure, but primarily to build local capacity to provide rehabilitative care. This will reduce the costs of referring claimants to neighbouring countries for rehabilitation”.
On a positive development, Kgosidiile reported that there was a slight decrease in road crashes in 2014 compared to the previous year.
“It is significant that fewer road crashes were recorded in Botswana in 2014 than in the year before, the totals being 16,641 and 17,062 respectively, a drop of 2.5 percent”.