UC Berkeley Report Examines Health Care Market Concentration, Finds Disparate Costs between Northern and Southern California

On Monday, the UC Berkeley School of Public Health Nicholas C. Petris Center for Health Care Markets and Consumer Welfare released a report entitled, Consolidation in California’s Health Care Market 2010-2016: Impact on Prices and ACA Premiums. The report examines the rapid and significant consolidation of hospital, physician, and health care insurance markets throughout California and finds that highly concentrated markets are associated with higher health care costs for consumers.

Costs for medical procedures were found to be up to 30 percent higher in Northern California than in Southern California, even after adjusting for the Bay Area’s higher cost of living and wages. On average, in Northern California costs for inpatient care were 70 percent higher and costs for outpatient care were up to 55 percent higher when compared to Southern California. Premiums for health insurance plans purchased through the individual marketplace were also found to be 35 percent higher in Northern California. The report determines that Northern California’s health care markets are “considerably more concentrated” than Southern California across all health care market measures analyzed.

The report is likely to garner significant attention from state officials and lawmakers in California, particularly as health care coverage and affordability issues continue to be a major focus of the Legislature. On Monday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and UC Berkeley Petris Center Director Dr. Richard Scheffler held a press conference on the release of the report. Attorney General Becerra indicated his office will review the report, but declined to detail what actions he may take related to the investigation of anticompetitive practices among health care-related entities.

The full UC Berkeley report may be accessed here.