Could Healthcare Mergers Result in a Single-Payer System?


Obamacare prompted major deal making in the healthcare industry and now that the Supreme Court has upheld Obamacare subsidies, the deals are being encouraged yet again.Merger and acquisition trends are spreading to reduce cost-cutting pressures as well as the demand to be more efficient. These health insurance consolidations suggest a new trend towards a single-payer system, which begs the question: “Is the market moving us to universal health care?”

The size of potential mergers could result in unparalleled health insurance giants. Fortune’s Shawn Tully reported that if UnitedHealth and Aetna “were combined today, they would rank fifth on the Fortune 500, leapfrogging the likes of AT&T, Ford, and Apple.” Consumers would have a very limited choice if mergers led to only a few health insurance giants. However, it also might be wasteful to provide consumers with so many choices and that a single-payer system is in fact the best way to provide maximum efficiency. It is unclear how big health insurers need to be to stay efficient, nevertheless the health insurance market seems to keep moving towards a natural monopoly which would result in a single-payer system.  

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Alison Killian is a recent graduate of Grove City College who majored in Business Management and minored in Biology Studies. She is a contributor to Medical Groups and passionate about all facets of healthcare. She plans on continuing work in the healthcare field especially in management. She is very interested in healthcare innovation and finding ways to improve the current system. She hopes to go back to school in a few years to earn a degree in medicine.