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AMA: Most states have 2 health ins. firms

CHICAGO, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- As a result of mergers and acquisitions, 80 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas lack a competitive commercial health insurance market, doctors say.

Dr. Peter W. Carmel of the American Medical Association said this year's edition of "Competition in Health Insurance: A Comprehensive Study of U.S. Markets" is the most comprehensive analysis of its kind, reporting commercial health insurance market shares and federal concentration measures for 368 metropolitan markets and 48 states.

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The scope of the analysis provides a complete picture of fully insured and self-insured enrollments for both health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations, Carmel said.

"New data presented by the AMA demonstrates the degree of anti-competitive market clout that some health insurers have gained through mergers and acquisitions," Carmel said in a statement. "Our new report is intended to help regulators, lawmakers, researchers and policymakers identify markets where mergers among health insurers may cause competitive harm to patients, physicians and employers."

In 24 of the 48 states reported in the study, the two largest health insurers had a combined commercial market share of 70 percent or more, Carmel said.

The 10 states with the least competitive commercial health insurance markets, are: Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Michigan, Hawaii, District of Columbia, Nebraska, North Carolina, Indiana and Maine.

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