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MUNCIE, Ind. — Depending on which set of data you look at, in Indiana healthcare can be among the most expensive you’ll find anywhere in the U.S.

There could be several factors that make this so, but for Dr. Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State, it’s quite simple. He tells Indy Politics that it is the monopolization of hospital systems in Indiana.

“If you’re looking at hospital costs we’re third nationally on a per person basis,” he said. “Talking about private sector spending on that.”

Hicks said in some markets like Fort Wayne for example with Parkview Health, healthcare costs have gotten “way out of whack” because of a lack of competition, which has led to hospital monopolies in these markets.

“You may think that in cities it’s more expensive,” Hicks said. “(Healthcare) actually cheaper in Indianapolis and the reason for that is competition. With the past 10 to 12 years of these big five hospital systems buying other hospitals, so there are monopolies all around the state where consumers have very little choice of which provider they can go to.”

When only a singular hospital system controls a particular market that’s when prices tend to go up, according to Hicks. He made it clear that in his view insurance companies are not the ones pushing healthcare prices higher which is among popular belief.

It’s simply a lack of competitive capacity that is driving prices higher in some Hoosier markets, he said.

Lawmakers have been meeting at the Statehouse for summer meetings to discuss possible frameworks on legislation surrounding healthcare and tax reform in Indiana.