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Public Health (12-06-2015)

Competition among health care providers: Final Opinion adopted

The independent Expert Panel, which gives non-binding advice to the European Commission on matters related to effective ways of investing in health, has today adopted a final opinion on “Competition among health care providers - Investigating policy options in the European Union”. This follows a public consultation on the preliminary opinion which ran from 24 February to 13 April 2015, and which provided input into the final opinion.

The Expert Panel addressed the role of competition among health care providers within Member States as an instrument to improve efficiency in the use of health system resources. It explored the policy options and practical considerations for integrating such competition into health systems.

The opinion concludes that competition can potentially be a useful instrument, but that its value varies across countries, health care subsectors and time scales.

Introducing, increasing or changing competition in health services would be a delicate policy exercise. There needs to be an appropriate regulatory framework, and relevant bodies and mechanisms put in place to oversee it.

The accreditation of providers and carefully designed payment systems are of specific importance. Sound policy evaluation studies are needed to assess and judge the impact of competition, as policy design and policy outcomes are likely to vary depending on the context.