Hospital markets highly concentrated in 72% of metro areas HCCI studied

A growing number of metropolitan areas have hospital markets that could be considered highly concentrated by the Department of Justice, according to an analysis from the Health Care Cost Institute.

Five things researchers found while analyzing more than 1.8 billion commercial healthcare claims from 2012-16:

1. By 2016, the majority (72 percent) of 112 metro areas HCCI studied were highly concentrated. HCCI said this "reflects the fact that most metros became increasingly concentrated over time."

2. Larger metro areas tended to be less concentrated. New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago represented three of the five least concentrated hospital markets HCCI studied.

3. Comparatively, Springfield, Mo., was the most concentrated metro area in HCCI's study, followed by Peoria, Ill., and Cape Coral, Fla.

4. HCCI noted one potential factor in the concentration of hospital markets in a metro area is how much residents seek healthcare in neighboring regions. "In nearly every metro area, the majority of residents received inpatient care from a hospital within that same metro area," the researchers said. They cited St. Louis, where 97 percent of hospital admissions were from residents.

5. The researchers noted the effect highly concentrated hospital markets could have on price: "[I]n most markets, patients have faced fewer choices as markets have become increasingly dominated by a smaller number of hospitals and hospital systems. Increased concentration is potentially concerning as there is a growing body of literature documenting the relationship between more concentrated hospital markets and higher prices."

To view the full report, click here.

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