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AMA ranks least-competitive health insurance markets in U.S.

While Alabama towns dominate the rankings of the metropolitan markets in the country with the least competitive health insurance markets, the mid-Atlantic has its fair share, according to a recent study.

The study, conducted by the American Medical Association, ranked the locations where health insurance market share was owned by one insurer, with little comptetition from other carriers.

In most of the markets with little competition, plans affiliated with Blue Cross and Blue Shield were the dominant players.

While the AMA study sought to distinguish the 20 markets with the least competition, in fact, 55 cities were listed as there were multiple ties for rankings.

Highlights of the survey included:

Danville, Va., ranked fourth, with 84% of the market dominated by WellPoint. The Virginia towns of Harrisonburg, Lynchburg and Blacksburg also made the list.

Ocean City, N.J., and Atlantic City, N.J., came in sixth and seventh, respectively, with more than 78% of market share going to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Dover, Del., was ninth on the list, with 76% of market share covered by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware.

In Pennsylvania, Erie, Johnstown and Altoona were ranked 13th, 16th and 17th, respectively, with Highmark being the dominant carrier.

The AMA calculated the percentage of the market share in a geographic area by dividing an insurer’s enrollment for all health insurance products by the sum of all insurers’ enrollment — then multiplying the result by 100.

Competition for market share among rival health insurers is typically viewed favorably by consumers, as a way to keep premiums in check, and by providers, when looking for leverage during negotiations over payment rates.

U.S. metro areas with least health insurance competition

1. Gadsden, Ala. — 91% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
2. Decatur, Ala. — 88% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
2. Dothan, Ala. — 88% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
2. Florence, Ala. — 88% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
2. Tuscaloosa, Ala. — 88% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
3. Tallahassee, Fla. — 85% (Florida Blue)
4. Danville, Va. — 84% (WellPoint)
5. Anniston-Oxford, Ala. — 82% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
5. Auburn-Opelika, Ala. — 82% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
5. Huntsville, Ala. — 82% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
5. Montgomery, Ala. — 82% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
6. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. — 80% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
6. Ocean City, N.J. — 80% (Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey)
7. Atlantic City, N.J. — 78% (Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey)
8. Mobile, Ala. — 77% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama)
9. Dover, Del. — 76% (Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware)
9. Iowa City, Iowa — 76% (Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield)
9. Greenville, N.C. — 76% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina)
10. Ann Arbor, Mich. — 75% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
10. Battle Creek, Mich. — 75% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
10. Bay City, Mich. — 75% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
11. Lansing-East Lansing, Mich. — 74% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
12. Harrisonburg, Va. — 73% (WellPoint)
13. Goldsboro, N.C. — 72% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina)
13. Erie, Pa. — 72% (Highmark)
13. Wenatchee, Wash. — 72% (Premera Blue Cross)
14. Sumter, S.C. — 70% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina)
15. Topeka, Kan. — 69% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas)
15. Owensboro, Ky. — 69% (WellPoint)
15. Jackson, Mich. — 69% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
15. Rocky Mount, N.C. — 69% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina)
16. Fairbanks, Alaska — 68% (Premera Blue Cross)
16. Yuba City-Marysville, Calif. — 68% (WellPoint)
16. Honolulu, Hawaii — 68% (Hawaii Medical Service Association, independent licensee of BCBS)
16. Anderson, Ind. — 68% (WellPoint)
16. Terre Haute, Ind. — 68% (WellPoint)
16. Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich. — 68% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
16. Monroe, Mich. — 68% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
16. Niles-Benton Harbor, Mich. — 68% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
16. Warren-Farmington Hills-Troy, Mich. — 68% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
16. Johnstown, Pa. — 68% (Highmark)
16. Casper, Wyo. — 68% (Cigna)
17. Altoona, Pa. — 67% (Highmark)
17. Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, Va. — 67% (WellPoint)
18. Flint, Mich. — 66% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
18. Saginaw-Saginaw Township North, Mich. — 66% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
19. Gainesville, Fla. — 65% (Florida Blue)
19. Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux, La. — 65% (Louisiana Health Services & Indemnity aka Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana)
19. Kalamazoo-Portage, Mich. — 65% (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)
19. Lynchburg, Va. — 65% (WellPoint)
20. Elkhart-Goshen, Ind. — 64% (WellPoint)
20. Bismarck, N.D. — 64% (Aetna)
20. Anderson, S.C. — 64% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina)
20. Columbia, S.C. — 64% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina)
20. Spartanburg, S.C. — 64% (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina)


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