The Consequences of Physician Market Concentration
A growing trend toward consolidation in health care markets has raised concerns regarding the potential harmful effects of concentration. While recent research has documented the relationship between physician market concentration and prices, less is known about non-price effects on patients and the broader health care market. This session further explores the consequences of physician consolidation. The first paper finds that cardiologists in concentrated markets provide more services to their patients, performing more intensive diagnostic procedures. This increase in utilization is linked to fewer subsequent re-admissions. Our second paper looks at the link between physician and insurance markets. Exploiting a 2011 Medicare Advantage policy change that forced some insurers to form new provider networks, the author finds that concentrated physician markets contribute to higher insurance market concentration. Our third paper investigates the relationship between physician market concentration and health care outcomes for chronic conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes. The authors also use a list of hand-curated physician group mergers to evaluate the effects of integration and concentration.