In a statement halting another hospital merger, the Federal Trade Commission put the matter bluntly:
“Too many hospital mergers lead to jacked up prices and diminished care for patients most in need.”
This data compiled by AHIP proves the statement to be true:
- Hospitals in highly concentrated markets can charge higher prices for medical services and have greater leverage to negotiate higher prices from health insurance providers, leading to ever-increasing health care costs for individuals and families.
- Hospitals that do not have any competitors within a 15-mile radius have prices that are 12% higher than markets with 4 or more competing hospitals. This 12 percent surcharge results in an average increase of over $1,000 per year for families and over $370 per year for individuals enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans.
- Consolidation leads to a diminished quality of care. Hospital acquisition leads to “modestly worse patient experiences.”
- One study found that hospital market concentration has a negative impact on patients’ care experience.
Of course, anti-competitive hospital consolidation is not new to North Carolina.
All data shows that mergers between healthcare providers cause prices to go up and quality to go down.
Given such, anti-competitive healthcare consolidations deserve a high level of scrutiny and free market competition must be protected.