Major insurers dominate most markets

March 6, 2009
Morgan Lewis Jr.
Morgan Lewis Jr.

Most health insurance markets are dominated by only one or two health insurers, according to a report issued by the American Medical Association.

Most health insurance markets are dominated by only one or two health insurers, according to a report issued by the American Medical Association.

The AMA's 2008 Competition in Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Study of U.S. Markets finds the vast majority of the 314 U.S. metropolitan areas with Health Maintenance Organization and Preferred Provider Organization plans are dominated by a major insurer such as a Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee, Wellpoint, Aetna, or UnitedHealthcare. The second-largest competitor in most markets is typically another major company.

A lack of competition increases patient and employer premiums, and puts a stranglehold on physician earnings, the AMA says.