In the Dutch healthcare system, provider competition is used as a tool to improve efficiency. From a competition policy perspective, little is known about how collaboration among healthcare providers contributes to overall patient welfare, and how a balance is achieved between scale benefits and preventing anticompetitive collusion. This paper examines the ex-post effects of a Dutch case study in which three competing hospitals have collaborated to provide highcomplexity low-volume cancer surgery, an arrangement that tests the limits of permissibility under the Dutch cartel prohibition. Our preliminary empirical research demonstrated only a modest increase in price and travel time for some of the tumour surgeries. Volume analysis showed that the intended centralization of surgical procedures has not been fully realized. Our findings highlight the importance of a comprehensive self-assessment by the collaborating hospitals to ex-ante assess (potential) efficiencies and antitrust risks. Such self-assessments could benefit from research focused on which collaborations are most appropriate to achieve quality gains. For the ex-post assessment by competition authorities following the cartel prohibition, a more thorough insight into the (long-term) changes in hospital prices, profitability, and quality after collaboration is needed.

Analysis of Health Care Markets (jel I11), Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health (jel I18), Regulation and Industrial Policy: General (jel L50),
Journal of Competition Law and Economics
Health Systems and Insurance

van der Schors, W., Kemp, R, & Varkevisser, M. (2020). Collaboration and competition policy in a market-based hospital system: a case-study from The Netherlands. Journal of Competition Law and Economics. doi:10.1093/joclec/nhaa009