The underperformance of the South African (SA) private healthcare sector during 2020 was a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the lack of growth in private medical aid memberships1. With the timing and efficacy of the vaccine rollout to the general population still uncertain, combined with predictions of a third wave of the virus, the short to medium term prospects of the sector remain somewhat uncertain.
Notwithstanding the current short-term challenges, GCR considers the demand fundamentals in the private healthcare sector to remain robust, given the poor state of the public healthcare system. In addition, much of the lost elective procedures are likely to be recovered once the pandemic passes, with the potential for a temporary spike in earnings during FY2022. However, affordability will remain a major constraint on sector growth.