On 5 December 2017, the ACM announced a more strict policy towards hospital mergers. This change in policy seems to be triggered by new economic research concerning the effects of hospital mergers, which indicates that the prices charged by merged hospitals are relatively higher than those of non-merged hospitals.

Although the research was widely criticised because certain key findings were statistically irrelevant, the change of policy stands as a matter of fact and implies that the ACM is more likely to find competition concerns during merger control procedures or to prohibit hospital mergers. One week after the announcement, two hospitals (St. Anna Zorggroep en Catharina Ziekenhuis) that were involved in a merger control procedure, announced that their merger was off the table after the ACM had found “important competition concerns”.