Before campaigning to defend a market, it is a good idea to check whether it exists. The release of the report by the Competition Commission’s health market inquiry, chaired by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, and the (distant) prospect of national health insurance (NHI), triggered a familiar local ritual. Whenever an official body suggests the government change the law to limit private economic power holders, a chorus complains that the free market is under attack. 

This is so common now that just about everything the government might do to regulate behaviour in the economy is denounced. But, like the behaviour of the boy who cried wolf, it makes it far more difficult to tell real dangers from prejudices. And sometimes the market the chorus wants to save does not exist...

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