The health care sector has gone through various waves of consolidation with hospitals purchasing physician practices and hospitals, physicians, and health insurers merging with each other.
We're in the midst of a wave of consolidation.
Two years ago, Health Affairs published a paper that found more than half of US physicians and 72 percent of surveyed hospitals were affiliated with one of 637 health systems in 2018. More recently, some have estimated that the 10 largest health systems now control about a quarter of the health care market.
Consolidation brings with it various opportunities for savings and efficiency but it also concentrates market power and creates opportunities to raise prices.
Vilsa Curto from Harvard University joins A Health Podyssey to discuss the effects of consolidation and integration.
Curto and colleagues published a paper in the May 2022 issue of Health Affairs assessing trends in vertical integration and joint contracting between physicians and hospitals in Massachusetts and exploring the affects on prices for physician services.
They found notable price affects that varied according to system size and physician type.