Does hospital M&A cause healthcare prices to rise?

Has the feverish level of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) within the hospital sector created unbearable pressures to raise the overall price of healthcare?

The answer to that question is yes, according to a Revenue Cycle Intelligence article

Regarding the high rate of M&A in the hospital sector, "it is possible there will be dire financial consequence within the healthcare industry at large," the article states. "Higher prices for increasing premiums and healthcare services, a weeding out of those organizations that can no longer afford to keep up, and increasing concern about hospital competition are viable concerns."

Healthcare industry experts believe that M&A activity among hospitals will continue at a brisk pace for years to come, primarily due to a still-fragmented market and financial pressures to consolidate that stem from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And collaborative activities mandated by the ACA also have driven up M&A activity. 

"Today's frenzy of hospital mergers and physician practice acquisitions is giving hospital systems even greater leverage to inflate opaque 'charge-master' medical bills that even hospitals are sometimes unable to itemize sensibly," surgeon Marty Makaray, M.D., wrote in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

But in a rebuttal to Makary's article, American Hospital Association CEO Rich Umbdenstock noted in another Wall Street Journal opinion piece that hospitals engage in M&A activity in part to ensure they have funds for capital improvements such as the purchasing and installing electronic medical record systems. 

To learn more:
- read the Revenue Cycle Intelligence article 
- check out Makary's Wall Street Journal opinion article (subscription required)
- here's Umbdenstock Wall Street Journal opinion article