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Sandile Ngcobo. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Sandile Ngcobo. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

The Competition Commission’s health market inquiry (HMI) plans to publish its long-awaited final report on September 30, it announced on Tuesday

The inquiry began work in January 2014, and was tasked with investigating the dynamics in the private healthcare market and determining whether there are barriers to effective competition that hamper patients’ access to care.


Its five-member panel, headed by former justice Sandile Ngcobo, recommended in its interim report in July 2018 that the health department consider establishing a supply-side regulator to oversee pricing and quality issues in the private healthcare sector.

Its final recommendations thus have potentially far-reaching implications for private healthcare providers and the medical scheme industry which funds access to their services. They are also expected to influence the health department’s plans to amend the Medical Schemes Act, which were placed on hold pending the finalisation of the panel’s work.

“The HMI is in the final stages of review and analysis of stakeholder input, and drafting the final findings and recommendations report,” it said in a notice published on its website.

The HMI originally planned to publish its interim report in August 2016, with a final report slated for the end of that year, but extended these deadlines repeatedly due to a series of delays. These included a legal challenge from private hospital group Netcare, difficulties in obtaining data from medical schemes and private hospitals, and budget constraints that forced the Competition Commission to pause several inquiries during the last quarter of its financial year, which ended on March 31.

The HMI received 69 stakeholder responses to its interim report by the end of 2018, which it published on its website. It has, since then, held a series of seminars in response to the feedback it received on its interim report and published the additional submissions it received in relation to these meetings.

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