The South African private healthcare industry faces significant changes in national health policy which most notably include the likely introduction of National Health Insurance (NHI). The possibility exists that the NHI agency will seek to contract with both public and private healthcare providers (referred to as plurality of provision). This raises questions of relative pricing between the two sectors. The concept of “price” from a consumer or funder perspective is complicated because services in the public sector are frequently not sold, and where prices do exist (for those above the means test) they are not determined by the existence of a market. This makes it necessary to consider the underlying cost of delivering services, which in turn raises questions of relative efficiency and quality of care differentials.
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