On 6 January 2014, South Africa’s Competition Commission began a market inquiry, or investigation, into the private health sector following concerns about the high price of health care in the sector.
The market inquiry will examine why the private sector may not be working effectively. The commission will ultimately make recommendations to improve the private sector to protect consumer interests while markets remain fair and competitive.
The commission will specifically look into the increases in prices in private health care and determine cost drivers. According to its terms of reference, the commission will investigate issues including:
- The fees charged to individuals on medical aid versus those who pay out of pocket;
- The role of hospitals in influencing the demand for health goods and services; and
- The relationship between hospitals and services such as ambulances, pathology, medicines and medical devices, and whether these relationships push up costs.
The commission can recommend to create or amend policies, legislation or regulations but will not draft any regulations or laws during the inquiry. It will also not set prices during this process.
However, the commission can also chose to enter into agreements with companies, conduct further investigations or initiate a complaint to a higher authority, specifically the Competition Tribunal.
To find out more about the inquiry and its scope, download the document: Market Inquiry into the Private Health Care Sector Factsheet