Taking a Close Look at Market Concentration


Over the past several decades, the consolidation of health care providers and insurers has increased their market power and driven up health care prices and premiums. Since states play an important role in regulating provider and insurer markets, it’s important to understand how concentration levels vary across the United States and in local regions.

In a new study on To the Point, Brent D. Fulton, Daniel R. Arnold, and Richard M. Scheffler of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health look at health care provider and insurance market concentration for each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in 2016. For providers, the vast majority of MSAs were at the concentrated end of the spectrum; for insurers, nearly all MSAs fell into the middle of the spectrum. When examining the relative concentration between providers and insurers, providers generally had the upper hand.

While highly concentrated markets are not always bad, it’s important, the authors say, for federal and state regulators to monitor them and take steps, if needed, to protect the interests of consumers and employers.

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