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Do health insurance monopolies cause poor health?

A September 28 Modern Healthcare article explains just how concentrated the American health insurance industry has become.

Big Appliance. Big Oil. Big Dairy. Big Pharma. Annnnnd Big Health Insurer.

Not that we needed more evidence to prove the big business of health insurance, but a recent article in Modern Healthcare confirms our suspicion.

But what we are starting to suspect is that there might be more at stake than profits and premium prices, which both tend to rise alongside an insurer’s market share.

Because here’s a little riddle for you: Which two top ten lists are Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, Alabama, and Oklahoma all on?

These five states share the mutual honor of being listed as the Top Ten Most Concentrated Health Insurance Markets in the U.S. – and the Top Ten Unhealthiest States in the U.S.

Now, we know as well as anybody that correlation doesn’t equal causation. But we can’t help but draw connections among concentrated health insurance markets, weak state health systems, and poor quality of health.

And according to the American Medical Association, as cited in the article, almost three-fourths of United States metropolitan areas lack a competitive health insurance market. This limits patient options, which limits patient care, which reduces health outcomes.

A more concentrated market gives insurance companies incentive to raise premiums, and it also gives payors more leverage in negotiations with hospitals. But what might happen if fewer people are able to afford health insurance, because the premiums are too high? And fewer hospitals can stay open because the reimbursements are too low? Could the population get sicker and sicker?

Certainly, there could be other factors at play. But for us, it seems to track – it seems like the more power insurers have in a community, the less access citizens have to quality care.

Also, it’s worth remembering – this isn’t like the other highly concentrated industries we previously mentioned, such as pharmaceuticals, oil, or appliances. We’re not talking about dishwashers – we’re talking about people’s lives.

It’s almost like someone should do something about it.

And while President Biden’s Department of Justice is supposedly looking into anti-competitive behavior, we’ve been hearing that tune for a while now. With lives on the line, it’s important that something be done – and soon.

Original Article:

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