The application of competition law to the healthcare sector came
under scrutiny at a conference held at Webber Wentzel on 24 August
2012. Competition Commission (Commission) staff, economists and
healthcare sector stakeholders discussed the particular features of
the healthcare market; enforcement action in relation to hospital
mergers and collective bargaining; and the possibility of a market
inquiry into the sector.
Participants seemed to agree that if a market inquiry is to
proceed, a thorough analysis and full participation is required due
to the multi-tiered and complex nature of the sector. The
Commission also indicated that it is first considering options and
investigating the nature of the industry before initiating a
The Commission may initiate an inquiry similar to the Jali
Commission that investigated the banking sector. Alternatively, it
may wait for the Competition Amendment Act, No. 1 of 2009 coming
into full force and effect (only the commencement date needs
promulgation), as the Amendment Act provides the Commission with
much more extensive market inquiry powers (including the ability to
issues summons). It may however transpire that the Commission
simply investigates and initiates complaints regarding to specific
conduct in the healthcare sector if it is of the view that there
are reasonable grounds to do so.
The speakers and panellists included Prof Alex van den Heever
(Wits University), Dr James Hodge (Genesis Analytics), Mr Keith
Weeks (former Manager, Enforcement & Exemptions Division,
Commission), Mr Casper Venter (Healthman), Dr Nicola Theron and Ms
Marine Erasmus (Econex), Mr Tembinkosi Bonakele (Deputy
Commissioner, Commission), Ms Trudi Makhaya (Manager, Advocacy and
Stakeholder Relations, Commission) and Webber Wentzel Competition
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