The article "Will we like tomorrow's giants?" (Aug. 5, p. 70) notes that proponents of consolidation in healthcare claim mergers will result in improved quality of care and reduced costs. Realistically, however, those are ludicrous assumptions.
Managed-care plans increasingly are dominating the structure of the healthcare industry. And there's no doubt mergers are rampant among managed-care companies. It's also highly likely that, as the pace of merger activity continues or even intensifies, the shrinking number of healthcare organizations will be more inclined to collude to increase prices rather than compete to decrease prices. Since the survivors of the merger wars will have larger market shares, what would be the incentive to compete? Without any real competition, how will costs to consumers be reduced? Attempts by consolidated healthcare entities to cut costs probably will entail cutting back on services to consumers. But this will diminish quality rather than improve it.