Worse Outcomes After Hospital Mergers

NPR: The Untamed Rise Of Hospital Monopolies

An excerpt:

Zack Cooper, an economist at Yale School of Public Health, and his colleague, Martin Gaynor, have crunched the numbers on hospitals using the government’s preferred way of measuring market concentration, and they’ve found that about 80% of America’s hospital markets are now “highly concentrated.”…

The research clearly shows, Cooper says, that growing monopolization has raised prices for patients. Less competition means hospitals can charge higher prices and get away with it. They can pay lower wages and get away with it. And they can provide worse care and get away with it. “We want firms to compete and be incentivized to raise their quality to attract more consumers, and the more that hospitals merge, the less sharp those incentives become,” Cooper says. “We have evidence that death rates are literally higher in markets where hospitals face less competition.”…

The bizarre part of all this is that many of these monopolizing hospitals are technically considered “nonprofits.” … instead of making profits that are distributed to shareholders, nonprofit hospitals take the extra money they make and use it for executive compensation and buying shiny stuff. 

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