ACCC declines to authorise common fee setting for ophthalmologists

By Kathryn Finlayson and Rachel Cox

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has decided not to grant authorisation to members of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists (ASO) to reach agreements within shared practices as to the fees to be charged for ophthalmic services. The applicants were unable to demonstrate that public benefits arose from common fee setting rather than from the shared practice model or that common fee setting was an integral part of the model. The decision, on 19 September 2013, followed previous authorisations of common fee setting in shared practices of other medical professionals including general practitioners, dentists and ophthalmologists working for the Vision Group.

This case is a timely reminder to applicants that in order to obtain authorisation they need to show that there are real public benefits flowing not from the conduct generally but from the specific behaviour sought to be authorised…

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