In response to a question by the DA’s Michael Cardo, Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, disclosed that the Healthcare Inquiry cost R196m over four years. The Inquiry was to assess the state of competition in the private Healthcare Market.
The interim report, published in 2018, found that private healthcare in SA displayed consistently rising medical scheme premiums and increasing out-of-pocket payments while medical schemes were at the same time decreasing the range and depth of services offered. The final report is expected to be published in March 2019. Public hearings took place in 2016, and the commission received written reports and feedback from 175 stakeholders from hospital groups, doctor groups, medical aid schemes, and other stakeholders.
The inquiry, led by a panel with expertise in law, health economics, and sector experience, considered the state of competition in the private healthcare market. The commission also made use of specialists to support the panel, headed by ex-Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo. The bulk of the costs – more than R78.6-million – went towards human resources and operational costs. R38.9-million in costs for economic experts followed this. Other expenses included data warehousing and actuarial services (R13.5-million), legal expertise and litigations (R12.5-million), data de-identification and security (R9.6-million), healthcare sector experts (R5.6-million), and media and communications costs of R1.4-million.
The five-panel members earned a total of R36.8-million. Medical aid schemes were “difficult to understand fully,” and left consumers “confused and disempowered, compounding their inability to use choice as pressure on schemes.” The report said this absence of competitive pressure is primarily due to disempowered and uninformed consumers, adding that there is no method for consumers to assess the value of the services that schemes procure on their behalf.