By Daniel S. Arnold, Katherine L. Gudiksen, Jaime S. King, Brent D. Fulton, and Richard M. Scheffler | Published May 11, 2022 in The Milbank Quarterly | Link to Full Article
Decades of consolidation in both health care provider and insurer markets has resulted in highly consolidated health care markets throughout the United States, leading to higher prices for patients and employers. In some instances, dominant health insurers have used their market power to demand clauses in contractual agreements that drive up the cost of health care in anticompetitive ways. As a result, antitrust enforcers and policymakers have begun scrutinizing contracting practices between health insurers and providers as one way to promote competition in consolidated markets.Most-favored-nation (MFN) clauses (sometimes called “pricing parity” or “price protection” clauses) were some of the first provisions challenged in court and prohibited by state laws, but the economic impact of these laws remains unknown. This study estimated the effect that laws banning MFN clauses in health insurance contracts have had on hospital prices.