The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] as part of its campaign in support of the introduction of the National Health Insurance [NHI] and in the wake of the shocking revelations in the report of the Competition Commission’s Health Market Inquiry [HMI], shall be picketing against the high and rising healthcare costs in the private health industry.

This protest picket shall take place on the 18th October 2019 at the Netcare Head Offices in Sandton. Netcare is the biggest within the monopolistic triangle which includes Life Healthcare and Mediclinic.

The HMI concludes that underlying the extremely high healthcare charges is the fact that:

·       There is virtually no competition within the private providers market, which raises suspicions of collusion which the Competition Commission did not investigate.

·       These monopolistic companies have market power which they use to create barriers of entry for other prospective providers, which involves anti-competitive behaviour.

·       That the predominant pricing mechanism used in the private health sector is Fee-For-Service, causing extremely high charges and that resultantly there is no value of money for the services provided

This protest picket is the first in the series of a range of other actions that are in the pipeline, which we shall mount with other organisations to ensure that the prevalent profiteering in the private health industry is stopped. To the extent the private provider industry shall continue to operate under the NHI, we are determined that there is appropriate intervention by the authorities to ensure that:

·       There is an end to the oligopoly in the providers’ market.

·       There is appropriate regulation of healthcare charges to ensure that there is value for money and healthcare services are affordable to ensure that access is expanded in order achieve universal health coverage as required by the constitution.

NEHAWU condemns the wide-scale profiteering that is taking place across all the key components of this industry. Therefore, this picket is part of our broader fight against the wide-spread profiteering in the private health industry which includes the role that is played by the private health practitioners, for-profit administrators and managed care operators in medical aid schemes and private laboratories.

Therefore, as part of this picket, in addition to the private hospital groups, we shall also send memoranda of demands:

·       To Discovery which owns the biggest open medical aid scheme and biggest for-profit administrator.

·       To the Competition Commission to investigate and carry out is mandate as required by the competition law.

·       To the government to take appropriate regulatory measures as allowed by the law.

Thus the overall key demands of this picker and our overall campaign are the following:

·       Stop abusing the trust of the patients by putting them through expensive treatments when affordable means and methods of treatment are available.

·       Stop hospitalising patients for long periods when it is not clinically necessary – in order to make them pay for your other unoccupied beds.

·       The charges of the healthcare services must fall and we call on government to take a firm stand and to decisive regulate the private hospital industry as allowed by the law.

·       Private healthcare doctors and specialists must respect and honour the ethical code of their profession – to do their work in the best interests of the patients rather than serving their own greed and the profit motive of the shareholders of the private hospital companies.

·       The Competition Commission must investigate collusion, price-fixing and other anti-competitive behaviours in the private health industry to take drastic punitive action as required by the legislation.

·       The private health hospital monopolies must be broken – up, the full might of the Competition Amendment Act must be exercised!

We call on all South Africans to join the protest action to make a bold statement to the private healthcare sector that we are tired of being exploited for profits. Furthermore, we call on all those who support the NHI to join the picket as a sign of showing that we all stand behind the vision of universal access to healthcare that the NHI will bring about.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha [General Secretary] at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso [Deputy General Secretary] at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba [NEHAWU National Spokesperson] at 082 455 2500