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Major insurers dominate most markets

Article

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.

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