Private equity, payers acquire far more physicians than hospitals: AHA

Private equity firms, physician groups and payers have acquired the majority of physician practices over the last five years, according to a report published June 26 by the American Hospital Association.

Since 2019, private equity firms have been responsible for 56 percent of physician practice acquisitions, followed by physician groups (14 percent) and insurers (11 percent), according to the report. Hospitals and health systems were the buyers in 4 percent of physician practice deals. 

Physician polling data also shows that more physicians are choosing to become employed rather than operate their own practice due to the increased costs and burdensome policies like commercial payer prior authorizations. 

The percentage of physicians employed by hospitals, health systems or corporate entities grew from 62.2 percent in January 2019 to 73.9 percent as of January 2022, according to an Avalere study sponsored by the Physicians Advocacy Institute.

The largest employer of physicians in the U.S. is UnitedHealth Group's Optum, with more than 70,000 physicians across more than 2,200 locations.

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