GAO: Private health coverage remains concentrated among largest insurers

Enrollment in private health insurance plans remained concentrated among a small number of issuers in 2017 and 2018, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office. The three largest issuers continued to hold 80% or more of the large group, small group and individual market in at least 43 states, with 10 states seeing an increase in concentration in the individual and small group markets since 2011, GAO found. The Affordable Care Act requires GAO to report on changes in the concentration of enrollment among issuers in overall individual, small group and large group markets, and individual and small group exchanges.

“The GAO’s findings underscore concerns expressed by hospitals and health systems: highly concentrated insurance markets reduce patient choice, endanger patient care and increase their costs,” said Molly Smith, AHA’s vice president for coverage and state issues. “This allows health plans to adopt policies that benefit them financially and not patients. Such lack of competition encourages plans to pull a bait-and-switch on patients: delaying and denying medically necessary care that patients paid for through their premiums and changing coverage rules mid-year.”