Economic regulation in health care. What can we learn from other regulators? – King’s Fund – 3 November 2011

Posted on November 4, 2011. Filed under: Health Economics | Tags: |

Economic regulation in health care. What can we learn from other regulators? – King’s Fund – 3 November 2011

by Anna Dixon, Tony Harrison, Claire Mundle


Economic regulation was originally set up to regulate natural monopolies in the interests of consumers and to promote competition where appropriate. The need to ensure the health care market operates in the interests of the public and patients is one of the main objectives behind the introduction of economic regulation in health care. Can we learn anything from the experience of economic regulation in other sectors?

The coalition government has built on the market-orientated policies of the previous government, creating a stronger and more independent system of economic regulation that will apply to the whole health care sector, public and private providers. The Health and Social Care Bill proposes extending Monitor’s responsibilities to include:

tackling anti-competitive behaviour
ensuring continuity of essential services in the event of financial failure.

There has been some concern about the impact of competition in health care, with critics claiming that it cannot be treated in the same way as the nationalised utilities. Economic regulation in health care seeks to look at these issues dispassionately. It outlines the development of economic regulation in England and describes the differences between the market in health care and the market in the utility sector. In looking at the experiences of other sector-specific economic regulators, it considers their objectives, how they are held to account and what regulatory instruments they use. It also briefly compares the proposals for the regulation of health care in England with the experience of economic regulation of health care in The Netherlands and the United States.”

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