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No relief from private insurance market concentration

Summary: The American Medical Association finds rising health insurer concentration. That’s bad, because powerful private insurers undermine the healthcare experience. What we need is fully concentrated insurance: a single payer, committed to the public good.

AMA publishes new study monitoring competition in U.S. health insurance markets
AMA press release
September 28, 2021

The American Medical Association (AMA) today published the newest annual edition of Competition in Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Study of U.S. Markets with findings demonstrating the rise of highly concentrated markets for health insurance.

The study’s findings show most health insurance markets in the U.S. are highly concentrated leaving millions of Americans with more limited health insurer options.

Between 2014 and 2020, the share of highly concentrated markets rose from 71% to 73%.

[This report] is a vital element of AMA’s continued antitrust advocacy to protect patients and physicians from competitive harm.

Comment by: Don McCanne

For two decades, the AMA has been publishing these annual reports on highly concentrated markets for health insurance, indicating that “consolidation involving health insurers may cause competitive harm to consumers and providers of care.”

With all of the problems in health care today, you would think that these reports would have led to interventions reducing the concentration. Instead, concentration actually rose from 71% to 73%. This demonstrates the ineffectiveness of current legislative, administrative, and private market sector control over private insurance abuses.

It is true that a single payer Medicare for All would maximally concentrate insurer function, but it would do that with a program that would operate on behalf of the public good for all of us rather than what we have now – a system that operates on behalf of a private sector that is draining funds for its own benefit rather than for the health of us all.

For those waiting for the AMA to do something, two decades of inertia is enough. We claim we have a democracy. It’s high time that we invoke its power to change policy for the public good. We can begin by electing legislators who understand and support policies that will lead to health care justice for all. No more delay!

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