When merging, health care providers must identify health care more accurately
Hospitals and independent treatment centers that wish to merge have to provide the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) more detailed information for the analysis of product markets. This is one of the changes in the revised notification procedure for health care mergers. From 1 January 2019, providers have to indicate per patient group what options will remain for health insurers and insured. In that way, ACM is better able to assess the merger’s effects on various types of health care services for patients and insurers.
ACM puts ‘patient groups’ first, and, by extension, the health care needs of patients, for example arthrosis, infections, or liver diseases. In merger cases, hospitals or independent treatment centers submit information for each patient group about the health care services they provide, and about, for example, who their competitors are for these services. In that way, ACM gains a better understanding of the health care services that hospitals and independent treatment centers provide.
This new approach corresponds with current developments in health care services. For example, we see more and more differences between providers when it comes to the extent in which they are able to offer certain care.
In 2016 and 2017, ACM published studies into the effects of hospital mergers on prices, volumes, and quality. These studies revealed that the prices of treatments had sometimes increased, and that there were no demonstrable quality gains. Others, too, have pointed out the risks of mergers. In response, ACM has indicated that, from now on, it would pay more attention to the anticompetitive risks of mergers. By analyzing mergers per patient group, ACM will gain a better understanding of possible risks.
More information about this procedure (in Dutch).