The private medical sector should start price regulation without waiting for the National Health Insurance (NHI) regime, according to a panel member of the Competition Commission’s Healthcare Market Inquiry, reports Beeld.
Dr Ntuthuko Bhengu, founder of health data management company Alchemy Health Technologies, was a panelist of the Health Market Inquiry set up in 2014 by the Competition Commission of South Africa. Its mandate was to probe the private health sector holistically to determine factors that restrict, prevent or distort competition and underlie increases in private healthcare prices and expenditure. He also served as the health expert on the SA National Planning Commission.
During a discussion about the NHI that almost none of the Inquiry’s recommendations had been implemented, according to a Beeld report, Bhengu said many of the recommendations are not dependent on the formation of the NHI. He listed some of the “urgent” recommendations of the Inquiry, which was concluded two years ago, such as regulation of prices.
“The improvement of the private sector through legislation and other amendments should not cease merely because there is a future date for universal healthcare coverage. The implementation of the recommendations are not dependent on the NHI, but we see it as very useful preparation for universal health coverage.”
The Inquiry had recommended fixing the “pricing vacuum” in the private sector through a forum for multilateral negotiations under the auspices of a new regulator for healthcare service providers. The regulator should set maximum prices for prescribed minimum benefits and a reference price list for other healthcare services, the Inquiry recommended.
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