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Paying a Premium on Your Premium? Consolidation in the U.S. Health Insurance Industry

Author

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  • Leemore Dafny
  • Mark Duggan
  • Subramaniam Ramanarayanan

Abstract

We examine whether and to what extent consolidation in the U.S. health insurance industry is leading to higher employer-sponsored insurance premiums. We make use of a proprietary, panel dataset of employer-sponsored healthplans enrolling over 10 million Americans annually between 1998 and 2006 to explore the relationship between premium growth and changes in market concentration. We exploit the differential impact of a large national merger of two insurance firms across local markets to estimate the causal effect of concentration on market-level premiums. We estimate real premiums increased by approximately 7 percentage points (in a typical market) due to the rise in concentration during our study period. We also find evidence that consolidation facilitates the exercise of monopsonistic power vis a vis physicians, whose absolute employment and relative earnings decline in its wake.

Suggested Citation

  • Leemore Dafny & Mark Duggan & Subramaniam Ramanarayanan, 2009. "Paying a Premium on Your Premium? Consolidation in the U.S. Health Insurance Industry," NBER Working Papers 15434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15434
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Wholey, Douglas & Feldman, Roger & Christianson, Jon B., 1995. "The effect of market structure on HMO premiums," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 81-105, May.
    2. Town, Robert, 2001. "The welfare impact of HMO mergers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 967-990, November.
    3. Borenstein, Severin & Rose, Nancy L, 1994. "Competition and Price Dispersion in the U.S. Airline Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 653-683, August.
    4. Evans, William N & Froeb, Luke M & Werden, Gregory J, 1993. "Endogeneity in the Concentration-Price Relationship: Causes, Consequences, and Cures," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 431-438, December.
    5. Cotterill, Ronald W, 1986. "Market Power in the Retail Food Industry: Evidence from Vermont," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(3), pages 379-386, August.
    6. Moriya, Asako S. & Vogt, William B. & Gaynor, Martin, 2010. "Hospital prices and market structure in the hospital and insurance industries," Health Economics, Policy and Law, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(04), pages 459-479, October.
    7. Capps, Cory & Dranove, David & Satterthwaite, Mark, 2003. " Competition and Market Power in Option Demand Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(4), pages 737-763, Winter.
    8. Steven T. Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 2001. "Do Mergers Increase Product Variety? Evidence from Radio Broadcasting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1009-1025.
    9. Alan T. Sorensen, 2003. "Insurer-hospital bargaining: negotiated discounts in post-deregulation connecticut," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(4), pages 469-490, December.
    10. McClellan, Mark & Cutler, David & Newhous, Joseph P., 2000. "How Does Managed Care Do It?," Scholarly Articles 2643884, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pau Olivella & Fred Schroyen, 2014. "Multidimensional Screening in a Monopolistic Insurance Market," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 39(1), pages 90-130, March.
    2. Trish, Erin E. & Herring, Bradley J., 2015. "How do health insurer market concentration and bargaining power with hospitals affect health insurance premiums?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 104-114.
    3. Duggan, Mark & Starc, Amanda & Vabson, Boris, 2016. "Who benefits when the government pays more? Pass-through in the Medicare Advantage program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C), pages 50-67.
    4. repec:tpr:restat:v:99:y:2017:i:4:p:637-651 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dunn, Abe & Shapiro, Adam Hale, 2015. "Physician payments under health care reform," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 89-105.
    6. Liu, Yiyan & Jin, Ginger Zhe, 2015. "Employer contribution and premium growth in health insurance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 228-247.
    7. Pelech, Daria, 2017. "Dropped out or pushed out? Insurance market exit and provider market power in Medicare Advantage," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 98-112.
    8. Greenfield, Daniel, 2014. "Competition and service quality: New evidence from the airline industry," Economics of Transportation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 80-89.
    9. repec:eee:indorg:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:216-247 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Miller, Nathan H. & Remer, Marc & Ryan, Conor & Sheu, Gloria, 2017. "Upward pricing pressure as a predictor of merger price effects," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 216-247.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • L1 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies

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