Why is the insurance industry consolidating and why should we care? Foremost, heavily regulated industries tend to thrive when they can reduce some of their regulatory overhead. But at the end of the day, recent mergers will leave patients with limited choices and force physicians to agree to unacceptable payment rates.
If the U.S. Department of Justice lets the insurer deals go through, the FTC may think that hospitals need a counterweight to all that pricing power. There are real pressures pushing them to merge, not just anticompetitive greed. And what that means for you is a world in which your health care is increasingly delivered by only a few big players. That has a lot of implications both for the care you get and the price you pay for that care. How all this will shake out is far from clear. But one thing is: When everyone is supersizing, it’s not hard to suspect that you’ve been assigned the role of “tiny mortal standing between Godzilla’s toes.”