Antitrust Chronicle – Healthcare Mergers: A Post-Mortem

Hospital mergers have been a hot topic in the antitrust world for a few decades now. Some of these mega-mergers would remake the health care industry and there are debates as to whether the consolidation would be bad or good for consumers, both patients and insurers.

Over the years, there has been significant progress towards more accurate methods of hospital merger prediction, better reflecting the commercial reality of the health care market. Where do things stand today in light of the recently blocked hospital mergers and what should we look for down the road? Is the Elzinga-Hogarty test on life support or has the plug already been pulled? Looking ahead, where will the development of richer models of hospital competition and new tools to analyze geographic markets lead?

July’s issue also includes two articles discussing recent developments in hospital mergers in The Netherlands, where the hospital markets have become highly concentrated over the last decade. Has this consolidation led to positive effects on the quality of care delivered? If so, how should we weigh the quality improvement argument as an efficiency defense in merger assessments?