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ACM conditionally clears acquisition of elderly care provider Vrijwaard by rival provider Omring

The acquisition of elderly care provider Vrijwaard in the northern Dutch city of Den Helder by rival provider Omring has been conditionally cleared. One of the conditions set by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is that three of Vrijwaard’s care locations must be transferred to another care provider that, at the moment, is not yet or hardly active in the city of Den Helder.

In Den Helder, Omring and Vrijwaard are the largest providers of elderly care and daily activities for the elderly at various locations. A full acquisition would create a single, very large health care provider in Den Helder. That would severely reduce the options for seniors that are in need of nursing care or daily activities.

Martijn Snoep, Chairman of the Board of ACM, adds: ‘This is a great result for elderly care in the city of Den Helder. The fact that seniors have something to choose from is crucial because it stimulates health care providers to continue to make an effort to improve health care quality, and thus to separate themselves from other providers. That is incredibly important, also for seniors who are in the final stages of their lives.’

Having options for seniors is a critical incentive for health care providers to invest in health care quality and other distinctive changes to health care that seniors and their loved ones appreciate. The conditions that ACM has set to the acquisition ensure that sufficient options will remain. In the assessment of this acquisition, as well as of the different interests at stake, ACM has also taken into consideration the continuity of elderly care in Den Helder as well as the interests of health care employees in the region.

Transferring nursing home care and daily activities

Omring and Vrijwaard must transfer the care activities at the Vrijwaard locations Ten Anker, Lyceumhof and Parkzicht to another health care provider. That new care provider cannot, at the moment, offer nursing home care and Social Support Act-based daily activities in the municipality of Den Helder (or can only do so to a limited extent). The transfer is to be completed as soon as possible, but should ultimately be done within six months. An independent trustee will ensure that everything will proceed in accordance with the agreed upon conditions.

Various health care providers in the region were involved in determining the conditions for the transfer. Regional health care office VGZ, too, made a case for this solution. That is why ACM is confident that the transfer will counterbalance the reduction of options identified by ACM.

What was the case about?

The acquisition of Vrijwaard by Omring is related to Vrijwaard’s precarious financial position. According to ACM, a full acquisition of Vrijwaard by Omring would pose too great a risk for the available options for seniors and their loved ones for choosing health care that meets their needs. A full acquisition would result in nine of the twelve nursing home facilities in the municipality of Den Helder falling into the hands of a single provider. In addition, it would also result in a large share of the Social Support Act-based daily activities for seniors in the municipality of Den Helder being organized by a single provider. Furthermore, it is not just seniors and their loved ones that would be affected, but the municipality itself as well as the regional health care office VGZ, too, would have few options with regard to who is able to provide health care services in Den Helder.

ACM’s concentration control: mergers and acquisitions

Through its assessments of health care mergers and acquisitions, ACM contributes towards the affordability, accessibility, and quality of health care. In ACM’s assessments of mergers and acquisitions, the consequences for insured and people are central. If patients, health insurers or municipalities continue to have sufficient options after a merger or acquisition, it will help towards lower prices, higher quality, and more innovation in health care.