All types of monopoly are not created equal in the U.S. economy. In a forthcoming study later this month for the American Enterprise Institute, Barak Richman of Duke Law School emphasizes that health care providers with market power enjoy substantially more pricing freedom than monopolists in other markets.
Traditional antitrust enforcement tools have done little to halt extraordinary consolidation in local hospital markets over the last two decades, which drove higher price increases for inpatient services. Comprehensive, U.S.-style health insurance further enhances the pricing freedom of health care firms with market power. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) does little to address the monopoly problem and may even worsen it.