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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Study: Health Insurers Are Near-Monopolies

Consolidation among health insurers is creating near-monopolies in virtually all reaches of the United States, according to a study released Monday.
 
Data from the American Medical Association show that in each of 43 states, a handful of top insurers have gained such a stronghold that their markets are considered "highly concentrated" under U.S. Department of Justice guidelines, often far exceeding the thresholds that trigger antitrust concerns.
 
The study also shows that in 166 of 294 metropolitan areas, or 56 percent, a single insurer controls more than half the business in health maintenance organization and preferred provider networks underwriting.
 
"This problem is widespread across the country, and it needs to be looked at," said Jim Rohack, an AMA trustee and physician in Temple, Texas. "The choices that patients have now are more difficult."
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