The long-awaited terms of reference of an inquiry that might lead to a drop in private healthcare prices have been published. The competition commission, which will be conducting the inquiry, published the terms of reference of the market inquiry into private healthcare in today’s Government Gazette. Deputy commissioner Trudi Makhaya said this morning the market inquiry would commence on January 6 and end by November 30 2015. The inquiry is aimed at determining how the private healthcare sector decided on how it charges patients for service and what led to exorbitant increases in private healthcare costs in the past few years. It will also make recommendations on whether there needs to be some form of price regulation in the sector. Chances are that at the end of the inquiry, the cost of private healthcare could be reduced. Makhanya told City Press the commission is currently finalising the appointment of an expert panel that will preside over the hearings, review submissions, examine evidence, and draft the inquiry report and recommendations. She explained: “The inquiry will gather evidence and insights into private healthcare through public hearings, reviews of secondary material, information requests, consultations and summons, as required.” “All interested and affected parties are also welcome to submit information relevant to the inquiry in accordance with the guidelines for participation to be determined by the commission. We look forward to a robust, evidence-based inquiry that will illuminate the competitive dynamics of private healthcare markets to form the basis for sound recommendations,” she added.