Physician practice acquisitions accelerated during the pandemic, study finds
Physician acquisitions have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to information from the Physicians Advocacy Institute (PAI). The latest data shows by January 2021, hospitals and other corporate entities owned close to half of all physician practices in the United States and employed close to 70% of all physicians in the country.
In partnership with Avalere Health, PAI is researching changes in physician employment and the shift toward consolidation within the health care marketplace.
Between January 2019 and January 2021, the analysis shows 48,400 physicians left independent practices to become employees of hospitals or other corporate entities. Close to half of those physicians (47%) left after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data states:
“This represents a 12% increase in the percentage of employed physicians over the two-year study period.”
In January 2019, about 62% of physicians in the United States were employed by hospitals or corporate entities. That number jumped to 69.3% by January 2021.
The study also shows hospital and other corporate entities acquired close to 21,000 additional physician practices during this time period – representing a 25% increase in corporate-owned practices. Again, many of these practices were acquired following the onset of COVID.
With this recent jump in acquisitions, close to half of all US physician practices (48.4%) are now owned by hospitals or corporations.
Recent actions from the Biden administration indicate federal efforts to limit consolidation may be in the works. The Biden administration is expected to issue an executive order in the coming days directing agencies to elevate their oversight over a broad range of industries that they see as being dominated by a small number of companies.
Politico reports that the order, which is still being drafted, calls on the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission “to update guidance on how they examine proposed corporate mergers.”
The executive order is expected to touch on a range of industries in its effort to promote competition in the economy including airlines, technology, agriculture, and health care.