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On 6 January 2014, the Competition Commission began a market inquiry – an investigation – into South Africa’s private health sector.

According to Section 27 of South Africa’s Constitution, everyone has the right to have access to healthcare services. Concerned about the ongoing high prices in private healthcare, the commission will investigate the general state of competition in this sector to determine what can be done to make accessible, affordable, high quality and advanced private healthcare more widely available in South Africa.

It will also determine how the market sets its prices, and ensure that the market allows for citizens’ constitutional right to access to healthcare.

Public interest law centre SECTION27 is following the commission’s investigation, after calling for it for two years. Corruption Watch is working with SECTION27 as co-convenor of the civil society forum into the inquiry.

This important investigation is viewed as one of several recent developments to improve private and public health services. Other such developments include the national HIV/Aids testing and treatment programme; the National Health Insurance scheme; a new health products regulatory authority in South Africa; and ethical tariffs set by the Health Professions Council of South Africa.

Far-reaching implications for doctors and patients

The commission’s specific objective is to investigate and understand the following issues:

  • How are prices determined in this sector and what factors contribute to this price? How do doctors determine what to charge patients?
  • How has the commission’s previous interventions – its decision to prohibit the Board of Healthcare Funders and the South African Medical Association from setting tariffs – impacted the market?
  • How do patients access information about healthcare services and make choices about their health?
  • How do existing laws and practices impact on access to healthcare, and what gaps exist in the framework of health laws and policies?

It is hoped that the commission will make recommendations for regulations and laws that ensure reasonable prices in this sector.

Follow the links below for additional information and updates.

Netcare V KPMG – summary of day three

On the third and final day of proceedings, the three parties – Netcare, KPMG and the Competition Commission – made submissions. This is a condensed, integrated summary of the submissions from all three parties, with a focus on those aspects and arguments which may be of the greatest public interest.

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Netcare V KPMG – summary of day two

All parties who engage in the market inquiry should comply with the spirit of the inquiry, and should not take a formalistic or combative approach to the Competition Commission and its processes.

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Netcare V KPMG – summary of day one

The case between Netcare and KPMG and the Competition Commission is being held in the High Court between 20 and 22 May. Netcare has approached the High Court in order to protect its confidential information from being disclosed by KPMG to the Competition Commission. The commission has launched a market inquiry into the private health sector and has employed KPMG as a consultant for this purpose.

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Civil society engagement with the market inquiry into private health

SECTION27 and Corruption Watch have partnered in convening a civil society engagement during the Competition Commission’s market inquiry into the private healthcare sector. The first two engagements were held on 15 and 29 April 2014.

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Important dates to remember

Keep these dates in mind, as they correspond to important milestones during the tenure of the Competition Commission’s market inquiry into private healthcare.

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Guidelines and statement of issues

On 16 April the Competition Commission addressed stakeholders on the administrative guidelines, administrative timetable, and statement of issues for the health market inquiry.

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Terms of reference for the private healthcare market inquiry

The Competition Commission’s market inquiry into the private healthcare sector commenced on 6 January 2014 and is expected to conclude by 30 November 2015. For information about the inquiry’s terms of reference, follow the link below:

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Market inquiry panel appointed

Former chief justice and Constitutional Court judge Sandile Ngcobo will head the market inquiry panel. The other panellists are public health specialist Professor Sharon Fonn; Dr Ntuthuko Bhengu, a health risk specialist; university lecturer and healthcare systems expert Dr Lungiswa Nkonki and economist Cornelis (Cees) van Gent.

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The Competition Commission’s market inquiry into the private healthcare sector commenced on 6 January 2014 and is expected to conclude by 30 November 2015. The commission is initiating this inquiry because it has reason to believe that some aspects of the sector prevent, distort or restrict competition. Follow the developments on our dedicated page.