If a service is provided by a company rather than government, this does not automatically mean a market is at work. The point is fairly obvious but has passed many in South Africa by.
Private provision of services is moving into the spotlight in South Africa as the government looks to make the health system more accessible to the poor. One aspect is the Health Market Inquiry, established by the Competition Commission and chaired by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo. It recently released a provisional report recommending more regulation of private healthcare. It has invited comment on its ideas.
It is absolutely inevitable that whatever proposals it comes up with will be attacked as an assault on the free market in health care. This will ignore the reality – that there is no market in healthcare in South Africa, at least not one which works in the way in which markets are meant to work.
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