Price rise feared if hospitals merge
The Competition Commission wants the proposed merger of Mediclinic and Klerksdorp-based Matlosana Medical Health Services to be prohibited on the grounds that it would increase hospital costs for people in the Klerksdorp region.
On Thursday, the commission said the merger was likely to substantially prevent or lessen competition in the market for the provision of private healthcare services in Klerksdorp and surrounding areas.
"The merger is also likely to result in the merging parties unilaterally increasing hospital prices in Klerksdorp and surrounding areas," said Sipho Ngwema, head of communications at the commission.
Mediclinic, which is one of the three big hospital groups in SA, has a hospital in Potchefstroom, near Klerksdorp. Mediclinic also provides nursing training through centres across the country. Matlosana has a nurses’ training school and wholly owns and manages two multidisciplinary private hospitals in Klerksdorp. It charges fees on the basis of the National Hospital Network structure.
The commission said these fees would be substantially increased to the Mediclinic level if the merger were implemented. The fee increase would affect insured patients as well as private patients around Klerksdorp, said Ngwema.
The commission had considered potential remedies, he said, but had found none that were suitable and efficient in this particular case.