Merger may hurt consumers

Daily Editorial Board

University of Minnesota Physicians and Fairview Health Services will likely begin a merger into a comprehensive academic health system called M Health next summer, the Minnesota Daily reported Monday.
 
At a Board of Regents meeting on Friday, University leaders signed a letter of intent to merge the two health systems. They plan to reach an agreement by March and begin merging in July.
 
The two health systems are massive. Fairview Health Services runs 42 clinics and seven hospitals, and University of Minnesota Physicians is a group of 750 doctors.
 
Primarily, the merger is designed to increase efficiencies and collaboration between the two health systems, Fairview Board Chair and Interim CEO David Murphy told the Daily. He also said a patient would find a “more seamless experience at the hospital.”
 
Although we approve of a move to increase efficiency in health care, we are concerned the change could hamper competition between Fairview Health Services and
 
University of Minnesota Physicians. Less competition can lead to higher prices and fewer health care options for consumers. 
 
It’s true that a seamless experience for a patient may be helpful. Perhaps it’s even worth the merger. Still, the primary reasons for the merger — combining the financials of two large health companies and working to increase efficiencies — are corporation-oriented reasons for the move. For the public’s benefit, we suggest regents and health leaders carefully consider the implications the merger would have on patients, rather than focusing on ways the change would benefit these companies.