The ACCC is proposing to grant authorisation to health insurer HCF and participating dentists to agree the maximum price they will charge HCF members for some dental services.
Dentists that participate in HCF’s More For Teeth program agree to cap fees to HCF members for basic preventative and diagnostic services so that members don’t have to pay a gap. HCF now wants to establish its own dental clinics and charge the same fees for these basic services.
“Without ACCC authorisation, HCF may breach competition laws by setting prices at its own clinics and agreeing price caps with participating dentists,” ACCC Deputy Chair Dr Michael Schaper said.
“This agreement is unlikely to have a significant impact on competition as it relates only to preventative and diagnostic services provided to HCF members by participating dentists. Services covered by this arrangement are a relatively small proportion of all dental services.”
Dentists are free to choose whether to participate in the More For Teeth program. HCF members are free to decide whether they go to HCF-run clinics, a More For Teeth provider, or another dentist of their choice.
“Authorising this agreement will allow HCF to expand its program and network of clinics. If patients have better access to a dentist where they won’t be charged a gap, they are less likely to need more serious dental work in the future,” Dr Schaper said.
Prior to making its final determination, which is due in April, the ACCC invites further submissions about the proposal and draft determination from all interested parties.
Further information about the application for authorisation is available at Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Limited
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