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Further investigation needed into concentration of two mental-health care institutions

Two Dutch mental-health care institutions, Parnassia Groep and Stichting Antes, are as yet not allowed to merge. If both providers decide they wish to continue with their planned concentration, they will need to apply for a merger license with the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) first. If they do, ACM will launch a second phase, in which it will investigate, among other aspects, whether the planned concentration is expected to deliver improvements to health care and patients.

ACM has established that, as a result of the plans in their current form, the concentration would leave few options for patients seeking psychological and psychiatric care in the greater Rotterdam area. On the other hand, Parnassia and Antes believe that the concentration offers benefits to patients with severe mental disorders.

The concentration would put a large share of psychiatric care in the hands of a single provider

If the merger did go through, it would create a dominant player in the specialist mental-health care market in the greater Rotterdam area. This includes, for example, long-term psychiatric care. For this type of care (for example, admission into a psychiatric hospital), only a few other players would remain. For non-clinical specialist care (such as therapy sessions with psychiatrists), only a lot of smaller players would remain as alternatives.

With regard to forensic psychiatry for prisoners, too, just a single large institution would remain after the merger. And, with regard to the care of addicts, a potential major competitor could be eliminated.

Furthermore, ACM has doubts whether health insurers are sufficiently able to act as a counterbalance to a player of such magnitude. The dominance of the merger institution could result in a situation where health insurers no longer have any choice over where they can buy health care at a favorable price/quality ratio.