The Office of Fair Trading FT has launched its market study into private healthcare, which will still look at aspects of private medical insurance.
The OFT study will focus on the following issues:
- The nature of competition in private healthcare provision - in particular how private healthcare providers compete on the price and quality of treatment
- Concentration of provision - whether concentration at the national, regional and/or local levels might be limiting the extent of competition in the market
- Barriers to entry - whether the relationships between private healthcare providers, private medical insurers, consultants and GPs may restrict entry and/or expansion, and whether there are other restrictions on the ability of providers to enter or expand into the market
- The role of consultants - whether restrictions placed by healthcare and insurers on consultants and other medical professionals limit choice and quality of care for patients, and the role of consultants more generally in determining how patients are treated, where they are treated and by whom
- Constraints on consumers - how consumers access and assess information about private healthcare providers, and how they exercise choice.
The OFT will consider the provision of private medical insurance as it affects the provision of private healthcare, but does not intend to focus directly on issues arising at the point of sale, such as transparency of terms and conditions of contracts, or whether the market is competitive.
The OFT expects to issue a progress report in late summer before publishing its final market study by the end of 2011.