On Monday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) ushered in the Competition Commission’s Health Market Inquiry report release, stating that the inquiry is a first for a democratic South Africa as it provides understanding into the private healthcare industry.
The Competition Commission released a 256-page document in Johannesburg, and their investigation consisted of public hearings, written submissions, and meetings with key players in the private health industry.
The critical insight takes a look at key issues that have surfaced over the years in South Africa’s private healthcare industry, and the report proves lack of competition in the private sector as three major hospitals reign, namely: Netcare, LifeHealthcare and Mediclinic account for 90% of the private hospital market.
The unsupervised private healthcare sector has allowed hospitals to benefit from over-treatment, and the ability to “all but dictate year-on-year price and cost increases” for medical aids and administrators.
Overtreating patients only benefits the hospitals and is caused by monetary incentives for doctors and facilities to admit more patients and this translates to more beds, doctors and medicine, being required by more people irrespective of whether they need them or not.
The DA has declared the findings of this report as the exploitation of citizens, and that currently, there is no oversight of the private healthcare industry.
“We have found there has been inadequate stewardship of the private sector with failures that include the Department of Health not using existing legislated powers to manage the private healthcare market, failing to ensure regular reviews as required by law, and failing to hold regulators sufficiently accountable. As a consequence, the private sector is neither efficient nor competitive.”The Competition Commission
The Competition Commission has expressed that the facilities operate without any scrutiny of the quality of services and the clinical outcomes delivered aren’t standardised publicly by shared measures of quality.
The DA states that the Department of Health continues to believe that the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI) will be better despite the proven systemic failures of the current health system.
“This bill, as it stands, does not provide for the review of the health system in its entirety, it simply advocates for a deeply problematic funding model. The Bill makes provision for a central healthcare fund which will be yet another state-owned enterprise. This will do nothing to improve the quality of healthcare in both the public and private health industries. Instead, it will make this fund vulnerable to mass-scale corruption, over-centralization of healthcare and potential collusion of big business and big government.”The Democratic Alliance