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30 05 2024

According to the Competition Council, free healthcare services funded by the Compulsory Health Insurance Fund (CHIF) are considered non-economic activity and thus are not subject to the requirements of the Law on Competition. Consequently, the institution decided to terminate the investigation into doctor incentive program approved by the Akmenė District Municipality concluding that the other facts established in the investigation, related to paid medical services, are of minor importance and do not cause substantial harm to competition.

The investigation was initiated following a complaint by the private medical institution Akmenė Health Center regarding the municipality's approved program to incentivise doctors of scarce specialties to work in public healthcare institutions in Akmenė District Municipality. The program includes various measures to attract doctors: a one-time financial grant, compensation for residency studies, and provision of municipal housing. However, these incentives are available only to public healthcare institutions managed by the municipality that have service agreements with the territorial health insurance fund.

The Competition Council investigated whether the Akmenė District Municipality, by approving the mentioned program, might have granted privileges to its managed healthcare institutions, and discriminated against private institutions, thus creating unequal competition conditions and potentially violating the Law on Competition.

During the investigation, the institution's experts gathered information from the Ministry of Health, analysed the regulatory framework of legal acts, examined the practices of Lithuanian and international courts, and reviewed decisions by competition authorities in other EU countries. Their aim was to determine whether healthcare services should be considered an economic activity.

The Competition Council concluded that free services funded by the CHIF, whether provided by municipal or private healthcare institutions, should be considered non-economic activity and therefore are not subject to the requirements of the Law on Competition.

In the Council's assessment, economic activities include paid medical services, which in the case under review, constituted up to 10% of the services provided by healthcare institutions in Akmenė District (both private and municipal).

The Competition Council found that the program approved by the Akmenė District Municipality is primarily intended to attract doctors to ensure the provision of services funded by the CHIF (i.e., non-economic activities). Since 2020, the program has managed to attract three family doctors, who are not prohibited from additionally working in private healthcare institutions. Therefore, considering that the established facts are of minor significance, the institution decided to terminate the investigation.

The recognition of the facts as insignificant and the termination of the investigation do not prevent economic entities from turning to the courts to demand that the municipality cease its actions or compensate for any damages incurred.

The decision of the Competition Council can be appealed to the Regional Administrative Court within one month from the day it is delivered or published on the institution's website.

Last updated: 30 05 2024