Healthy competition — OFT refers private healthcare market to CC for investigation

In April 2012, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) referred the private healthcare market to the Competition Commission (CC) for investigation. The Enterprise Act 2002 gives the OFT power to make such a reference if it has reasonable grounds for suspecting that competition for the supply or acquisition of goods or services is not working effectively.

The CC had to decide whether any feature(s) of the market for private healthcare prevented, restricted or distorted competition in the UK. If so, the CC then had to decide whether it should introduce remedies to tackle this.

After more than a year of investigation, the CC published its provisional findings in August 2013. It found that many private hospitals faced little competition in local areas across the UK, which led to higher private medical insurance (PMI) premiums and charges for private patients. It identified 101 hospitals that faced little local competition. Some of them were in clusters under the common ownership of one of the major hospital groups: BMI, Spire and HCA…

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