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Delays in fixing SA healthcare impact on South Africans

Even though only 16% of the country’s population uses private health care, it nevertheless gets a large portion of the government’s health expenditure in subsidies.

The release of a final report about the state of competition in South Africa’s private health sector has been delayed again.

It was compiled by an inquiry panel made up of medical, legal and economic experts. The panel heard submissions from a range of stakeholders including members of the public, civil society organisations as well as private hospital groups.

The inquiry was set up under the auspices of the country’s competition authority in 2013. It’s remit was to investigate characteristics of the private health sector that may prevent, distort or restrict competition.

Its preliminary report, released in July 2018, concluded, among other things that the sector was highly concentrated in the hands of a few major players. The final leg of work was to get inputs from various players on the initial findings before concluding the inquiry. The inquiry has cost tax payers R197 million so far.

Dr Wezile Chita, assistant dean for strategic affairs at the Faculty of Health says another delay of the report, which should have been released in March 2019, is bad news. He says the sooner authorities deal with the issues of anti-competitive behaviour in the private sector, the more likely access to quality health care will improve.

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