Consolidation in Payer, Provider Markets Continues to Rise
About 73% of health insurance markets in the metropolitan statistical areas were highly concentrated in 2020, while in 46% of those markets, a single insurer’s market share reached at least 50%, according to the 2021 edition of an annual report from the American Medical Association. The consolidation trend is also pronounced with providers, a trend that is likely to be accelerated due to revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic. A Health Affairs study found that the share of primary care physicians affiliated with vertically integrated health systems increased from 38% in 2016 to 49% in 2018, while more than half of physicians and 72% of hospitals were affiliated with one of 637 health systems in 2018. Yet several studies suggested that there is no clear evidence that provider consolidation leads to higher quality of care.