The Competition Commission’s preliminary report into SA's private healthcare industry has come under fire at the Hospital Association’s annual conference, with a lawyer describing the data as flawed and out of date.
According to a Beeld report, Anthony Norton, of law firm Nortons Inc, said in his presentation the findings and recommendations of the commission should be reviewed as there were major problems with the data. He said the commission had used ‘old data’ – dating from 2010 to 2015 – to ascertain market share of the hospital groups.
The commission found that Mediclinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare with approximately 30% each, dominate the market. ‘What the panel didn’t consider at all, is what has happened in the sector since 2015,’ Norton said. He argued that the majority of hospital licences have been awarded to the National Hospital Network (NHN) and other independent hospitals since then. ‘The NHN has a markedly larger market share than it had three years ago’, but the preliminary report doesn’t list NHN as a significant player, he noted.
The report says Nicola Theron, of Econex, agreed with Norton that the NHN should have been included in the analysis. ‘When this group’s figures are taken into account, the sector is not heavily concentrated anymore, but only mildly so.’ According to the different role-players’ websites, the NHN has 68 hospitals and 57 day clinics in the group, Mediclinic has 51 hospitals and three day clinics, Netcare has 54 hospitals and Life Healthcare 65.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has rejected the notion that there is a plan to destroy the private healthcare industry, and, according to a Beeld report, also denied the government ever said there are “two health systems operating on two levels”.
“‘What I said,” he told delegates, “is that we cannot have two systems where 16% of South Africans have access to both. When their private medical schemes are depleted, they have the option to use the state’s healthcare system. This is while 84% of South Africans have no choice about where they go. That is where the National Health Insurance comes (in)to play.’
He said it was unrealistic to wait for a fix for the public healthcare system before implementing NHI. ‘There is one private hospital in Gauteng that has more gynaecologists than the state hospitals in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West combined,’ he noted.
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