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ACM has no objections against the main principles of new COVID-19-related arrangements between hospitals and health insurers

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has no objections against the main principles of the new COVID-19-related arrangements between hospitals and health insurers for 2022. These new arrangements are considerably less far-reaching than the arrangements for 2021. ACM has established that, in 2022, hospitals and health insurers return to individual arrangements as the basis for the distribution of health-care funds. In that way, they are able to make the most suitable arrangements regarding high-quality, accessible and affordable health care in the interest of patients and insured. In addition, the health insurers informed ACM that, for 2022, they will not make any mutual arrangements regarding the settlement of health-care costs. That was one of the conditions that ACM set last year in connection with the collective arrangements for 2021.

ACM understands that health insurers and hospitals in December 2021 wished to reach several collective agreements as the pandemic took a dramatic turn as a result of the rise of the omicron variant. However, such agreements cannot go beyond what is necessary for effective cooperation in order to be able to absorb the expected COVID-19 peak and in order to safeguard the continuity of health care.

What are the next steps?

At the moment, hospitals and health insurers have written down the main principles of their arrangements, which will be fleshed out over the next few months. The hospitals and health insurers have indicated they subsequently want to submit these detailed arrangements to ACM for an assessment to see whether or not they are at odds with competition rules. ACM will then conduct such an assessment as swiftly as possible in order to offer the health-care market certainty. ACM appreciates the fact that, in this case too, hospitals and health insurers contacted ACM in an early stage of the process.

ACM and the COVID-19 pandemic

The laws that ACM enforces offer much latitude for cooperation in order to prevent people and businesses from being harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Various businesses and trade associations have asked ACM questions about collaborations in times like these. ACM will not take any enforcement action if collaborations are essential for continuing to be able to provide high-quality health care.