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Belgian Competition Authority Approves Largest Hospital Merger with Conditions

 |  July 2, 2024

The Belgian Competition Authority (BCA) has approved the country’s largest hospital merger between ZNA and GZA, both prominent healthcare providers in the Antwerp region. This decision is part of a broader trend of hospital consolidations across Belgium.

ZNA, already the largest hospital network nationwide, and GZA proposed a merger that required the BCA’s thorough scrutiny due to its potential impact on the local healthcare market. The BCA conducted an extensive assessment, focusing on how the merger would affect hospitalizations, specialized ambulatory care, pricing, quality, and accessibility of care. This assessment adhered to the BCA’s specialized analytical framework for hospital mergers, published on October 18, 2023.

The evaluation process was carried out with significant input from federal and regional health regulators, including FOD Volksgezondheid/SPF Santé Publique, RIZIV-INAMI, and the Vlaamse overheid.

During the Phase 1 review, the BCA identified specific concerns related to potential unilateral and coordinated effects on fee levels and room supplements. In response, ZNA and GZA proposed commitments to address these issues. Key commitments included capping fee and room supplements and maintaining operational autonomy from other local hospitals, ensuring no further network combinations.

This approval, contingent on these commitments, aims to safeguard against the potential negative impacts on healthcare costs and quality, while still allowing the merger to proceed.

Source: Belgian Competition