Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

THE Competition Commission’s healthcare market enquiry on Tuesday convened a special session in Pretoria, at which stakeholders were due to give oral presentations in response to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The report concluded that the cost of hospital care in SA was high when measured against GDP per capita and that the driving forces were in-house hospital and specialist fees.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) collected the data and conducted the study, which compared the prices of South African private hospitals to those of 20 OECD countries.

The health market inquiry was established to determine why medical inflation has historically risen faster than consumer price inflation, and whether there are barriers to effective competition in the private healthcare sector.

It is holding public hearings to explore the relationships among different players.

First on the stand on Tuesday was private hospital group Mediclinic. Presenting on behalf of the company was research group Econex.

Econex economist Marine Erasmus said a loophole in the report, which would also make it difficult for stakeholders to make informed critiques, was that the document did not avail the source of the data used in its compilation.

"In this way, the report does not advance the panels work, " she said.

She added that the report also made its analysis on many incorrect assumptions such as that private healthcare prices rose by more than the consumer price index level, a claim that Erasmus said was an incorrect measure of increases in medical costs.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda was Netcare; Insights Actuaries, a healthcare actuarial consultant company; and a response by the WHO on its report.