Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD
Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: SUNDAY WORLD

HEALTH Minister Aaron Motsoaledi yesterday urged delegates to the Hospital Association of SA’s annual conference to formulate a position on pricing in the private sector, a critical issue facing the sector.

At issue is whether key players in the private healthcare sector will co-operate with an inquiry being planned by the Competition Commission, and the extent to which they will resist any subsequent moves by the minister to regulate prices.

"I am painfully aware that the word ‘regulation’ is a swear word to many within the sphere of private healthcare," Dr Motsoaledi said. "It is regarded as undue interference from an ineffective state that is failing to understand the laws of economics or a state that is desperately trying to divert attention from the problems of the public healthcare system by focusing unnecessarily on private healthcare.

"Some have argued that everything about private health must be left to market forces and the state must stay out of it.

"Those who think so will wake up to discover that this is no longer the direction many health authorities are following around the world ," Dr Motsoaledi said.

Delegates also heard from Ravindra Rannan Eliya, director of the Institute of Healthcare Policy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, who said SA had a "serious problem with cost control in the medical scheme market" and was unlikely to resolve it if the market was left to its own devices.