The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has decided to allow dental practitioners who operate in shared practices to reach agreements on the fees that they charge their patients, where at least one party to the agreement is a member of the Australian Dental Association Inc.
The Australian Dental Association sought authorisation because dentists who operate as separate legal entities may be at risk of engaging in price fixing or other anti-competitive conduct if they agreed upon the fees charge for treatments within the shared practice.
“The authorised arrangements are similar to the authorisations previously granted to Australian Dental Association members,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
“The ACCC considers that allowing dentists whom operate in shared practices to charge common fees is likely to result in public benefits as it is likely to encourage more dentists to operate within a shared practice structure. The benefits from an increase in the incidence of shared practices include greater availability, continuity and quality of care, and improved efficiency in the provision of dental services, which in turn will benefit patients.”
The ACCC has decided to grant authorisation for a period of 10 years.
The authorisation does not apply to the setting of fees between dental practitioners who operate separate practices and who do not share common features.
Authorisation provides statutory protection for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. The ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
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