Health insurers: eliminate antitrust exemption

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Unlocking Competition: The Need to Eliminate the Antitrust Exemption for Health Insurers

By David Balt , Stephanie Gross

(The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all.)

View the full memo (pdf)

Competition is the lodestar of the marketplace. Where competition thrives, consumers benefit from numerous choices, low prices, superior service, and innovation. But where competition is absent, consumers pay more for less, have fewer choices, and are at the mercy of market participants with unbridled power. Bringing competition to health insurance markets is essential to achieve meaningful health care reform, and as a first step Congress should eliminate the antitrust exemption that prevents effective federal enforcement against health insurers.

It is becoming clear in the health care debate that health insurance markets are broken. A tsunami of health insurance mergers has led to high levels of concentration in practically every market to the point where there are only one or two dominant insurers in many states. New companies face substantial entry barriers, and so these local monopolies go unchallenged.