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Private healthcare market dominated by the United States

Press Release   •   Oct 23, 2012 09:47 BST

The private healthcare market is set to see spending boom over the next six years, to exceed a value of US$5 trillion by the year 2018.

Growth in the sector is set to be triggered by a number of factors including the increase in patient preference towards the private healthcare industry, the rising levels of disposable incomes, and the demand for superior infrastructure and medical services. Furthermore, shorter waiting periods, a wider range of customisable services, and choice of medical specialists are other attractive benefits catalysing robust growth in the private healthcare market.

Private healthcare is healthcare provided by entities other than the government. The term is generally used more in Europe and other countries which have publicly funded health care, to differentiate the arrangement from the usual system.

Private healthcare can sometimes be more efficient than public sector provision, with private operators being more innovative in areas such as telemedicine. Due to the profit motive, they can be more productive. Public healthcare tends to be limited by the amount of tax that individuals are willing to pay.

The United States is the largest regional market for private healthcare spending. Almost 50% of the funding for the private healthcare sector in the US is sourced through private funding, where such services are provided to the public via several private and employer-initiated schemes.

The US healthcare per capita expenditure, covering both public and private avenues, is the highest in the world, with healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP ranking the highest at about 17% of the nation's GDP.

The UK's private healthcare market is set to be the subject of a full-blown competition investigation following concerns about transparency, the dominance of leading providers and obstacles faced by new entrants.

The Office of Fair Trading has referred the £5 billion industry to the Commission after a year-long study found competition is restricted by "barriers to new private healthcare providers" and a "lack of easily comparable information available to patients, GPs or health insurance providers".

The private healthcare market in the UK is dominated by five organisations: General Healthcare, Spire Healthcare, Nuffield Health, HCA International and Ramsay Healthcare UK. Together, they accounted for 77% of market sales in 2010.

For more information on the private healthcare market, see the latest research: Private Healthcare Market

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