Sweden: Procured laboratory services reduce the costs

16 October 2012

Catharina Baerselman, Jan Gedeborg

In Sweden, there has been a move to expose an increasing number of healthcare services to competition. Since 1 January 2010 it is mandatory for county councils to introduce a system of choice within primary healthcare services. This means that the county councils have to expose the primary healthcare services to competition by giving the user the opportunity to choose the preferred supplier. This has been regulated in the Act on System of Choice in the Public Sector.

According to a recent report from the Swedish Competition Authority, an increasing number of county councils are allowing or are about to allow healthcare providers to choose their own laboratory service suppliers.

The report concludes that these procurements have led to substantially lower prices for laboratory services. For example, the report states that the highest price found for a CRP analysis (common infection analysis) was around SEK 33 (approx. EUR 4) in a county council that had not exposed the laboratory services to competition. This is compared to a price of around SEK 4 (approx. EUR 0.5) in Stockholm, where the county council has publicly procured these services.

The Swedish Competition Authority emphasizes in its report that county council procurements also generate positive synergies as more stakeholders can establish themselves in the laboratory services market. This is of great significance from a competition perspective.

The report concludes that

- competition results in laboratories better adapted to the needs of primary healthcare services,
- exposure to competition through procurement is a key factor for lower prices, and
- procurements lead to clarified quality requirements.

The report constitutes a step in the Swedish Competition Authority’s supervision of the Act on System on Choice in the Public Sector and has been prepared and limited to those laboratory services that normally form an integral part of the system of choice.


Other cases on the EU and National Life Sciences developments newsletter for October 2012