The Price Effects of Cross-Market Hospital Mergers
We consider the effect of mergers between firms whose products are not viewed as direct substitutes for the same good or service, but are bundled by a common intermediary. Focusing on hospital mergers across distinct geographic markets, we show that such combinations can reduce competition among merging hospitals for inclusion in insurers' networks, leading to higher prices (or lower-quality care). Using data on hospital mergers from 1996-2012, we find support that this mechanism operates within state boundaries: cross-market, within-state hospital mergers yield price increases of 7-9 percent for acquiring hospitals, whereas out of state acquisitions do not yield significant increases.
We thank the editor, three anonymous referees, David Balan, Cory Capps, David Dranove, Gautam Gowrisankaran, Aviv Nevo, Bob Town, Nathan Wilson, and numerous conference and seminar participants for useful comments and discussion; and Matthew Schmitt and Victoria Marone for exceptional research assistance. All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Disclosure of Financial Relationships for Leemore Dafny: I have at various points in the past three years served as an economic expert on issues related to market definition and hospital mergers, both for litigation and non-litigation-related matters. I have been compensated for this work by government agencies, health care providers, and economic consulting firms. I am an academic affiliate of Bates White, an economic consultancy headquartered in Washington, D.C. Disclosure of Financial Relationships for Kate Ho and Robin Lee: We have no other outside sources of funding and no relevant or material outside financial relationships that relate to the research described in this paper.
Leemore Dafny, Kate Ho, Robin S. Lee. "The price effects of cross‐market mergers: theory and evidence from the hospital industry." Rand Journal of Economics, Volume 50, Issue 2 Summer 2019 Pages 286-325