Argentine government forces private healthcare providers to revert increases

The six-month measure targets seven large providers charging a 150% average markup since December

Following an average 150% cumulative increase in payments for private healthcare users, the government announced a series of measures to force private healthcare companies to backtrack. 

The sudden spike was enabled by the deregulation of private healthcare established in President Javier Milei’s 366-article mega-decree, which went into effect on December 29. He highlighted the removal of caps on price increases for private healthcare providers when announcing it on December 20.

On Wednesday, the Industry and Trade Secretariat and the National Commission for the Defense of Competition announced an investigation into the alleged cartelization of private healthcare companies. It also filed a preliminary injunction under the Antitrust Law.

The Secretariat pointed to an interview by Claudio Belocopitt, the then-president of the Argentine Health Union, in which he alluded to a coordinated strategy to increase prices. The Argentine Health Union is a confederation that brings together roughly 75% of the private medical organizations.

“We [private medicine companies] are going to get together first because we have to define practices to get out of an extremely alarming situation in an orderly manner,” Belocopitt said. 

“The average increase in arrears to partially cushion the impact this will have on us will be between 40% and 50%”.

Depending on the company, increases were around 40% in January, 25%-30% in February, and around 20% in March.

Last week, Economy Minister Luis Caputo said the government would take action on the increases. “The private healthcare companies are declaring war on the middle class,” he posted on X. Media pundits observed that the government’s mega-decree enabled the increases. 

A Wednesday resolution by the Secretariat also put a cap on increases for the next six months. April’s increases will be calculated based on December values and cannot surpass 90.2% — the cumulative inflation for that period. Future monthly increases will be limited to month-on-month inflation rates until September.

The Health Superintendence is filing a precautionary measure to the judiciary to force the companies to refund users the amount they paid above inflation, Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni said on Wednesday in his usual press conference.

Wednesday’s measures target seven private healthcare providers: Galeno Argentina S.A., Hospital Británico de Buenos Aires Asociación Civil, Hospital Alemán Asociación Civil, Medifé Asociación Civil, Swiss Medical S.A., Omint S.A. de Servicios, and OSDE Organización de Servicios Directos Empresarios.

The government also called for an investigation into the private health medicine confederation and Belocopitt, who resigned from his role on Tuesday.


All Right Reserved.  Buenos Aires Herald