The Dutch National Association of General Practitioners (LHV) and the regional Circles of LHV have made a commitment to the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) to no longer negotiate with health insurers on behalf of their members on, among other things, tariffs of treatments. In addition, they will no longer give GPs advice on whether or not to sign contracts offered by health insurers. As a result of their commitment, GPs and health insurers alike will be able to meet the individual needs of patients better, such as extended opening hours and introducing new forms of health care.
The NMa welcomes LHV’s constructive attitude. ‘It gives the NMa confidence that LHV and its regional Circles are giving the market more freedom, making it easier for GPs and health insurers to set up new initiatives,’ says Don, Member of the Board of the NMa. Furthermore, LHV will also establish a so-called compliance program, which explains what staff members should do if they encounter situations where they suspect a violation of the Dutch Competition Act.
The LHV commitment dovetails with the NMa’s market-wide approach to GP care. The NMa has looked for effective solutions to various problems. Earlier this year, the NMa imposed a fine on LHV and on two of its staff members for issuing recommendations to restrict the freedom of new GPs to establish their practices wherever they want. LHV filed objections against these fines. In addition, the NMa took steps, following consumer indications that they had a hard time trying to switch GPs (or were not able to do so at all). The NMa has informed the GPs in question that the freedom of choice always comes first, and that they cannot compromise that freedom by making arrangements amongst themselves. The GPs involved indicated that they shared this vision, and that they would take action if so needed.
The commitment decision (in Dutch) is available for perusal, and can be found on www.acm.nl. Interested parties can submit their opinions through 26 November 2012.
On January 1, 2013, the NMa will merge with the Netherlands Consumer Authority and the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands (OPTA), creating a new authority: The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). This new authority aims to ensure that markets work in order to protect consumer interests. To this end, the ACM will focus on three main themes: consumer protection, industry-specific regulation, and competition oversight.
Decision Ontwerpbesluit Landelijke Huisartsen Vereniging (in Dutch)