A new California Health Care Foundation report shows that consolidation in health care in California is not limited to any one system, market segment, or geographic region in the state with most markets across California are highly concentrated. Hospital markets are now approaching “monopoly levels” in many California counties. In addition, there is mounting evidence that mergers of health care companies are resulting in increased prices for health care services, with “little to no improvement in quality,” while also reducing wages for health workers.
The report highlights several actions policymakers could consider, given significant consolidation.
The study, Markets or Monopolies?: Considerations for Addressing Health Care Consolidation in California, was published in partnership with The Source on Healthcare Price and Competition, a project of the UC Hastings College of the Law. After compiling the latest research and data on California’s health care systems, the authors find growing levels of consolidation in the state’s hospital, specialist, and insurance markets.
High levels of consolidation are also occurring among physicians: Recent research has shown that 52% of specialists now work in practices owned by a health system — double the percentage of 10 years ago.
The CHCF report cites a number of other examples of recent research on the impact of market consolidation on health care costs and wage growth for health workers.
- Markets or Monopolies? Considerations for Addressing Health Care Consolidation in California. CHCF, December 1, 2021