ACM has, based on recent studies, intensified its attention for anticompetitive risks of hospital mergers.
When assessing planned hospital mergers, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) estimates the effect of the change in the market structure. A recent study revealed that there are indications of a relative price increase of health care offered by merger hospitals. The volume trends of merger hospitals do not appear to evolve structurally differently. In a previous study from 2016, it appears that hospital mergers do not have a demonstrably positive effect on health care quality. Combined with other market developments, this has resulted in the decision to intensify attention for anticompetitive risks associated with hospital mergers. This means that we may establish anticompetitive problems more often, and thus potentially block hospital mergers sooner. If the legislature chooses to create extra safeguards for public interests in health care, ACM argues to incorporate them in the health-care-specific merger assessment (in Dutch: zorgspecifieke zorgtoets).