Objective: To provide a commentary on the implications of the Deed of Settlement in the Honeysuckle Health – nib Australian-Competition-Tribunal Hearing. This hearing has major implications in relation to the potential for a single dominant private-health-insurance buying-group to contract for medical-purchaser-provider-agreements that might limit the clinical autonomy of patients and psychiatrists.
Conclusions: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) authorised the formation of a joint buying-group for private-health-insurers in 2021 to provide collective contracting and related services to private-health-insurers and other healthcare-payers. A consequent legal challenge resulted in a Deed of Settlement on 18 July 2022 that for 5 years preserves doctor-patient autonomy in clinical decision-making, the medical gaps scheme, the transparency of contractual arrangements, and if clinical data of those insured are collected by HH-nib, it must be with the full informed consent of patients. However, there remain options for private-health-insurers to apply for formation of new buying-groups, as well as to collect data and profile the general public and insured patients using online programs. Vigilance on private-health-insurer buying-groups, and the potential for US-style managed-care is warranted.
- Clinical independence
- Doctor-patient relationship