Source: Health Care Pricing ProjectResearch from the Health Care Pricing Project shows that among 15 hospitals in Philadelphia, the price of a lower-limb MRI varied so much that a consumer going to the highest-priced hospital would pay six times more than that same consumer would pay at the lowest-priced hospital.
It’s no secret that health care prices nationwide vary widely from one market to the next, and even within individual markets. A panel on hospital mergers during AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2016 conference in Cleveland will examine the many factors driving these variations in hospital prices. We’ll also discuss how consumers can shop more effectively for the lowest-priced care.
The session, “Merger mania of health providers and the rise of dominant and potential monopolies,” will be 4:40-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 9. Continue reading
Research from the Health Care Pricing Project shows that when hospitals have a monopoly in a market, prices are 15.3 percent higher than prices in hospitals where there are four or more hospitals, even after controlling for costs in those markets.
No doubt there’ll be lots of talk about hospital consolidations at AHCJ’s upcoming Health Journalism 16 conference in Cleveland. At one session in particular, Zack Cooper, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health policy and of economics at Yale University, will talk about the research he and his colleagues published last year on how hospital consolidations affect what hospitals charge consumers and insurers. Continue reading
Photo: Mark via Flickr
Hospitals have been merging and acquiring physician practices at a breakneck pace. They say it’s what they have to do to save money on big-ticket items like health care information technology, and to move toward the coordinated care models encouraged by the Affordable Care Act.
But insurers, state attorneys general and federal antitrust enforcers have a different take. They say consolidation can give hospitals monopoly power to drive up prices and hurt consumers. Continue reading
One big story health care journalists can pursue this year is whether federal and state regulators will approve the three pending health insurance company mergers. If they approve the proposals by Anthem to acquire Cigna, Aetna to buy Humana and Centene to purchase Health Net, we’ll cover what concessions regulators will require and how the mergers will affect health insurance markets. Continue reading
Earlier this month, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed a five-year bundled-payment test program for hip and knee replacement surgeries.
At the time, CMS said its Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CCJR) program would require 800 hospitals in 75 areas to test bundled payments for most of the 100,000 hip and knee surgeries that Medicare covers annually.
The proposal, which we covered here, would allow CMS to eliminate some of the widespread variation in costs and offer one more way for the Obama administration to squeeze out fee-for-service reimbursement by transforming payment from volume to value, CMS said. Continue reading
When health system executives tout the benefits of acquiring hospitals or physician groups, they often say the combined entity will benefit consumers and insurers by improving health care quality and reducing costs.
A case in point is a plan from Partners HealthCare in Boston to acquire Harbor Medical Associates, a 70-physician practice south of Boston. The goal of the acquisition is to improve patient care, coordinate care to boost patient outcomes and cut costs, reported The Boston Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey. Partners is the highest-cost health system in the state, she wrote.
In a post about the proposal in his blog, Not Running a Hospital, Paul Levy wrote that the acquisition would cause Harbor Medical doctors to steer patients to Partners’ hospitals. “So not only would local MD visits become more expensive: Follow-up secondary and tertiary care would also,” Levy wrote.
We know, of course, that acquisitions in health care are about making money, as Dan Goldberg wrote in this tip sheet and Joanne Kenen reiterated earlier this week.
Now, in a new report, researchers for the National Academy of Social Insurance, show there is little evidence that organizing hospital and physician care into integrated delivery networks (IDNs) has promoted quality or reduced costs. “Indeed, there is growing evidence that hospital-physician integration has raised physician costs, hospital prices and per capita medical care spending,” the report said. Continue reading