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NMa Attaches Conditions to Takeover of OZ by CZ

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has granted a licence for the takeover of the health insurer OZ by CZ. The regulator has attached a number of conditions to the merger of the two health insurers to ensure that competition on the market for health insurance is not restricted. The conditions apply for the period from 2006 up to and including 2010.

CZ and OZ have committed themselves, for instance, to the following conditions:

· CZ/OZ will offer policyholders in the region of Zeeland and the western region of North Brabant only policies for the basic and supplementary insurance which they also offer in the rest of the Netherlands. The merged undertaking will therefore not offer the aforementioned policyholders a (separate) provincial policy.

· The policy purchased by the largest number of policyholders in Zeeland and the western region of North Brabant from CZ/OZ will be offered to all potential policyholders throughout the Netherlands.

· CZ/OZ will not enter into exclusive contracts with providers of healthcare in the province of Zeeland and in the western region of North Brabant.

The conditions, to which CZ and OZ are required to adhere, ensure that competition is not restricted. After an initial investigation, the regulator ascertained in July that the merger of CZ and OZ could result in the emergence or strengthening of a dominant position in the province of Zeeland and the western region of North Brabant. The conditions stipulated ensure that a dominant position will not arise which is such that it would not be possible for other health insurers to offer policyholders in Zeeland and North Brabant a competitive policy.

NMa and the Medical Charges Board [College toezicht zorgverzekeringen (CTZ)], which will be incorporated into the Office of Health Regulation (NZa), will jointly supervise compliance with the conditions. CTZ or NZa will report annually to NMa on its findings.

In its investigation on which this decision is based, NMa took into account the Cabinet's health-care policy and the introduction of the new Care Insurance Act [Zorgverzekeringswet (Zvw)]. This Act will introduce a single health insurance policy for all residents of the Netherlands in the future and the distinction between health insurance funds and private insurance will no longer apply. The Care Insurance Act aims to contribute to a sustainable and affordable healthcare system in the future on the basis of competition.