Inquiry's report on health-care market delayed again
The Competition Commission’s long-running health market inquiry has announced yet another delay in the release of its final report, saying it wants to give stakeholders more time to comment on its provisional findings published in July.
The deadline for the publication of its long-awaited report has been pushed out by two months, to November 30.
The inquiry began in January 2014 and set out to investigate the barriers to effective competition in the private health-care market and why annual health-care inflation consistently outstrips consumer price inflation by several percentage points.
The original deadline for the release of its final report was November 2015, but it has been repeatedly delayed — partly due to legal challenges, but also because it has been at pains to show it is taking heed of concerns raised by stakeholders at every step of the way.
"Following the publication of the inquiry’s provisional report, the inquiry received several requests for extensions for submissions from various stakeholders and has considered these on a case-by-case basis," said the inquiry in a notice published in the Government Gazette on September 6.
Data access process
"Moreover, the inquiry received various requests for access to underlying data and information considered in preparing the provisional report, through the data room. The data room process is still ongoing.
"The data access process and extensive engagements that are required in respect of the provisional report necessitate a further amendment to the inquiry completion date. All comments and submissions made on the provisional report will be considered and, if necessary, the report will be revised," it said.
The inquiry has received 47 written submissions from stakeholders in response to its provisional report, released on July 5, and a further 17 are expected from stakeholders who requested an extension to its original September 7 deadline for comments, according to a notice on its website.
Section 27 attorney Sasha Stevenson welcomed the inquiry taking more time to consider inputs. "There is a need for better understanding and regulation of the private sector to ensure the realisation of health-care services," she said.
"That will be important when services start being purchased from the private sector by the state [under National Health Insurance] because it should mean assured quality and lower prices, but it is equally important now when [individuals] are buying services," she said.
The provisional report found a lack of competition in the medical scheme market and evidence of overservicing by providers, and concluded that the private hospital sector is so highly concentrated it inhibits effective competition.
It recommended interventions aimed at increasing competition, improving consumer protection and ensuring greater efficiency in the market.