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The Competition Commission of South Africa (CCSA) yesterday expressed its gave concern to the Portfolio Commission on Trade and Industry regarding the failure of private health care in country.

The CCSA briefed the committee on its on its 2018/19 Annual Report and 2019/20 first and second quarter reports on financial and non-financial performance. The committee heard that the CCSA completed its Health Market Inquiry (HMI) and published its final report, which was handed to the Minister of Trade and Industry on 20 September 2019.

The inquiry revealed that the private healthcare market is characterised by highly concentrated funders and facilities markets, disempowered and uninformed consumers and a general absence of value-based purchasing. It also found that practitioners who are subject to little regulation and failures of accountability at many levels.

According to the CCSA, a more competitive private healthcare market will translate into lower costs and prices, more value-for money for consumers and should promote innovation in the delivery and funding of healthcare. The inquiry advocated that competition in the healthcare sector should occur on price, cost and quality and not on risk avoidance.

The committee was told that the panel made several recommendations designed to promote systematic change in order to improve the context within which facilities, funders and practitioners operate. Some of the recommendations include a review of mergers, the establishment of a supply side regulator, the introduction of a single comprehensive standardised base benefit option and the promotion of competitive contracting.

“This is a market that is failing consumers in our country. When patients are sick, they cannot be electing procedures. They also only receive prices after the fact. Medical aids are trying to assist, but the private health care groups are big,” the CCSA said.

The committee also heard that due to interventions by the CCSA, 43 321 jobs were saved and 18 mergers were approved with public interest conditions. The CCSA receive 156 new merger notifications during quarter one and two of this financial year.

The committee Chairperson thanked the CCSA for its attempts to ensure a competitive market in South Africa.

Rajaa Azzakani
20 November 2019