If trade & industry minister Ebrahim Patel thinks his 69-month "health market inquiry" strengthens the argument for National Health Insurance (NHI), he’s sorely mistaken. This week, the panel set up under former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo to examine competition in the private health-care market, which began work in 2014, released its final report.Ngcobo’s panel concluded that the private health-care market is characterised by "high costs" and "overutilisation" of services, "disempowered and uninformed consumers" and a "failure of accountability at many levels".But in an understated way, the report was brutal in its critique of the government’s handling of the health system. After this, you’d have to be particularly bullheaded — and impervious to facts — to be steaming ahead with NHI without pause.Ngcobo’s panel found the reason the private health-care sector is inefficient and uncompetitive is there has been "inadequate stewardship" by the department of health, which has "not used...

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