The ACCC has authorised health insurer HCF and participating dentists to agree on a maximum price for some dental services provided to HCF members.
HCF intends to open its own dental clinics in locations where it already runs its “More For Teeth” program.
Under the More For Teeth program, participating dentists cap fees for HCF members for a limited number of basic preventative and diagnostic dental services, enabling HCF to offer “no gap” arrangements at participating dentists.
The authorisation allows HCF to set the same fees at its new clinics as members are charged by dentists in the More For Teeth program.
On 5 March 2018 the ACCC issued a draft determination proposing to grant authorisation for ten years, but it has ultimately decided to authorise for five years instead.
“We carefully considered the submissions received in response to our draft determination and decided to grant authorisation because we consider the arrangement will provide a net benefit for the public by allowing HCF to provide more capped-price dental services for its members,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.
“While some parties raised broader concerns about the role of insurers in dental services, the price setting we are authorising is very specific and we concluded that it is unlikely to affect competition or result in other significant public detriments.”
“HCF asked the ACCC to authorise these arrangements, because setting prices at its clinics and agreeing price caps with More For Teeth dentists may otherwise breach competition laws,” Mr Featherston said.
Authorisation is granted for five years rather than the ten-year period sought. HCF may seek reauthorisation in 2023.
A five-year authorisation period provides an opportunity for the ACCC to assess any changes to the program as HCF proposes to vary the items covered from time to time. It will also allow the ACCC to consider whether the public benefits continue to outweigh any detriments in deciding whether to grant a further authorisation.