Concerns Raised About Health Insurance Market
Officials for the American Medical Association on Wednesday testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that market consolidation has limited the ability of physicians to negotiate with health insurers and has led to increased premiums for consumers, CongressDaily reports.
At the hearing, AMA officials said that the Department of Justice should reduce restrictions on collective bargaining among physician groups to provide physicians with more ability to negotiate with health insurers (CongressDaily, 9/6).
Edward Langston, chair-elect of the AMA board of trustees, said that health insurers have used "aggressive acquisition strategies to assume dominant positions in their market," practices that "will lead to a health care system dominated by a few publicly traded companies that operate in the interest of shareholders rather than patients."
In a statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission "should be vigorously enforcing the antitrust laws not just against physician groups, as it has, but against insurance companies engaging in anti-competitive behavior."
However, Stephanie Kanwit, special counsel for America's Health Insurance Plans, said that the health insurance market remains one the most competitive in the U.S. and that consumers benefit from the competition. She said, "Consumers have lots of options" (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 9/6).