The Marketplace Piece

The text and audio of the Nancy Marshall Genzer’s very brief story is already posted on the Marketplace website. I’m quoted as saying,The vast majority of insurance markets are considered very concentrated. And that’s generally viewed as a threat to the welfare of consumers.”

Those are two true statements. There wasn’t room in the story for the other related things I have said or written, but you can find them elsewhere. In particular, it is still not at all clear that reducing insurer market power without parallel efforts on the provider side will help consumers. Nevertheless, allowing additional insurer market concentration via mergers is, in general, probably not a good idea provided health care providers do not themselves consolidate further.

The much larger and more important point, however, is that other elements of health reform are vastly more important to consumer welfare than the over-sized concern about insurer market concentration. We’re being distracted by that issue for a reason: it plays well and is helping sell the overall reform package by boosting Obama’s and Democrat’s popularity.

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