Antitrust Policy and the Transformation of Health Care Markets

Award Year:
Martin Gaynor, Deborah Haas-Wilson
Healthcare Markets
This study examines antitrust policy in the context of integrated provider networks. While increasing collaboration and integration of medical providers may be consistent with the goal of reducing health care costs, antitrust laws are written to promote and protect competition, not collaboration. Drs. Haas-Wilson and Gaynor take a close look at the role of antitrust policy in ensuring pro-competitive impacts of mergers, network affiliations, joint ventures, contractual arrangements, and health insurance purchasing alliances. A conceptual framework is developed to analyze competitive effects, focusing on: 1) the social welfare impacts of changes in structure and conduct in health care markets; 2) whether changes enhance efficiency or quality, or whether they facilitate collusion and market power; and, 3) appropriate antitrust policy if these changes result in lessened competition and a significant welfare loss. The findings provide policy guidance concerning when consolidation and/or collaboration should be encouraged or prohibited.