And, are you inclined to think we need more competition in order to lower costs? If so, you’re probably hoping Congress will see fit to tighten anti-trust regulations in whatever health care reform measures come out of both houses, while the insurance companies are begging for exemptions.
Fact is, the most egregious anti-trust infractions have already occurred, according to the blog Cab Drollery, published by a California attorney.
Blogger Diane lays it all out, citing a Los Angeles Times story that explains how, during the Bush years, more than 400 health insurance mergers occurred under the noses of Justice Dept. watchdogs, who sniffed at only two:
Health economist James Robinson found in 2003 that three large firms controlled more than 50% of enrollment in almost every state -- and that was before the biggest insurers launched a huge effort to snarf up their chief competitors, a trend exemplified by the 2004 mega-merger of WellPoint Health Networks Inc. and Anthem Inc. By 2008, according to the American Medical Assn., in nearly 90% of the metropolitan areas of the country, a single insurer controlled 30% or more of the market.
Is it merely a coincidence that health premiums have soared over the last decade -- up by 131% for family coverage from 1999 to 2009, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation?
"Competition in the health insurance industry is insufficient," Leemore S. Dafny, a health economist at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, told me last week. "It's becoming less competitive over time and it's causing higher premiums than we otherwise would see." [Emphasis added]
See http://cabdrollery.blogspot.com/2009/11/red-herrings-are-not-kipper-snacks.html for the entire enlightening blogpost.