Competition law (encompassing both antitrust and consumer protection) is the forgotten stepchild of health care quality. This paper introduces readers to competition law and policy, describes its institutional features and analytic framework, surveys the ways in which competition law has influenced quality-based competition, and outlines some areas in need of further development. Competition law protects the competitive process - not individual competitors. It guides the structural features of the health care system and the conduct of providers as they navigate it. Competition law does not privilege quality over other competitive goals but honors consumers' preferences with respect to trade-offs among quality, price, and other attributes of goods and services.
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