The UK’s Private Healthcare Market is Under the Competition Spotlight


The market for privately funded healthcare services in the UK has been referred to the UK’s Competition Commission (CC) for investigation. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) (the UK’s competition regulator) suspects that competition for private healthcare is prevented, restricted or distorted. The CC will investigate whether the OFT’s concerns are well-founded.

UK Healthcare

The UK has a National Health Service (NHS) funded through general taxation that provides a comprehensive range of free healthcare services to UK residents.

Patients can also privately fund their medical treatment or receive private cover for free through a private medical insurance policy (usually provided by their employer to encourage them to spend less time off sick). Private cover can be convenient, since waiting times are usually shorter, appointments are tailored to the individual, and there is a choice of consultant. Yet the OFT raises concerns that patients and doctors are found to be struggling to choose between competing service providers: there is, according to the OFT, an apparent lack of comparable information on prices, quality of service, and value for money of different private healthcare service providers.

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