The OFT said it had provisionally decided to refer the market for privately funded healthcare services to the Competition Commission to establish whether competition was being restricted or distorted, and whether smaller players were being prevented from entering the market.
Its provisional findings suggest that patients, doctors and insurance providers received little comparable information on the quality and cost of private healthcare providers, meaning that competition may not be as strong as it could be.
There are also a limited number of healthcare providers and a number of barriers which prevented new competitors from entering the market.
“It is important that patient demand and choice are able to drive competition and innovation in this market with a view to better value for all patients,” OFT chief executive John Fingleton (pictured) said in a statement.
Interested parties are being asked to respond to the consultation by the end of January and the OFT expects to have reached a final decision on the full referral by the end of March.