Private healthcare market may be anti-competitive with poor returns for patients

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 05 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2606
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred the private healthcare market to the Competition Commission, saying that it is not working properly for consumers. It warned last December that it intended to make the referral and the results of a public consultation since then have not changed its mind.

The OFT is critical of a lack of the information needed by consumers to make informed decisions and says that local monopolies and the ability of existing providers to make it difficult for new entrants to the market distort competition. As a result patients might pay higher prices than they need to or get poorer quality care.

In its market study, the OFT says that …

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