Bupa has urged the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to act now amid fears that customers will continue to be ‘penalised' by HCA charging higher prices for private healthcare.
Alex Perry, general manager, Bupa UK Customer said: "The CMA has confirmed again that there isn't enough competition in central London, with HCA dominating the private hospital market and charging higher prices."
He said that private health customers have been paying "more than they need" to for treatment at HCA hospitals in central London and this will continue until potentially 2022 - when the impact of a new entrant in the private healthcare market will likely change market dynamics.
In today's report, the CMA quashed previous remedies it had proposed, including the sale of one or more HCA hospitals.
The competition body said that customer outcomes would improve as a result of future factors including the entry of the Cleveland Clinic by 2020 with customers likely to experience a difference in pricing by 2022.
Perry said: "While it suggests that a probable new entrant will bring more competition to the London market, customers won't see a benefit for up to six years.
"Meanwhile, they'll continue to be penalised by higher prices. We ask the CMA to act now to address this gap."
"We will continue to do all we can to improve affordability and choice for London customers."
Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva Health also warned of customer detriment over the next few years.
He said:"While we're pleased that the CMA recognises that there is an ongoing issue with competition in central London for private medical services, we are disappointed that the CMA have chosen not to take action today to address this situation.
"As a result, private medical customers will continue to feel the impact of higher charges, until we see new competitors enter the market - which is not likely to happen for several years."
Meanwhile, in a statement AXA PPP said: "We are reassured that the CMA continues to recognise that there is a problem with competition in the Central London market for private medical services.
"Evidently the CMA has been provided with new information as regards Cleveland Clinic's possible market entry, which appears to underpin the CMA's new provisional decision.
"We have not been privy to all of this information and therefore we are not in a position to comment as to whether this will provide a suitable counterweight to HCA's position in the London market.
"We will now study the provisional decision on remedies in detail and continue to work with the CMA on its findings."
Stuart Scullion, chairman of Association of Medical insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) said: "Above all we advocate the market operates with openness and transparency in the best interests of the consumer. Market consolidation and contraction rarely benefits consumers.
"We operate in a finely balanced market between insurers, intermediaries and providers of healthcare services where the direction of travel too far in any one direction is unlikely to be in the consumer's best interests."
He concluded: "I am not surprised by the CMA's decision. They are working between a rock and a hard place."
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