ACM: Consumers are central in assessments of mergers and collaborations in hospital care

In the Dutch health care market, many mergers take place, and collaborations are forged. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) carries out assessments of mergers and collaborations for any possible anticompetitive effects under the Dutch Competition Act. In these assessments, ACM pays particular attention to the effects on consumers, which are patients and insured.

This is explained in the memo ‘Assessing mergers and collaborations in hospital care,’ which ACM has published. This memo contains guidelines, giving hospitals and other health care organizations more certainty about what they can expect from ACM when merging or collaborating. Chris Fonteijn, Chairman of the Board of ACM, explains: ‘We wish to correct the impression that ACM supposedly clears mergers but not collaborations. Assessments of mergers and collaborations are essentially the same: on balance, they must be beneficial. Show us that the benefits exceed the drawbacks.’

To ACM, consumers are central. That is why the opinions of patient organizations and health insurers play an important role. Next to any potentially anticompetitive effects, ACM also looks into the benefits that a merger or collaboration might have to consumers. In that context, collaborations are not subject to stricter rules by ACM than are mergers. ACM takes action if adverse effects for consumers could arise.