Tag Archives: consolidation

Health Policy Updates: July 31 2016

With the prices of many new specialty pharmaceuticals skyrocketing, the number of patients qualifying for Medicare’s “catastrophic” prescription drug provision is skyrocketing as well.

“Experts say the rapid rise in spending for pricey drugs threatens to make the popular prescription benefit financially unsustainable. Nonpartisan congressional advisers at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission have called for an overhaul. The presidential candidates, as well as the Obama administration, have proposed giving Medicare legal authority to negotiate prices.”

Continue reading Health Policy Updates: July 31 2016

Health Policy Updates: July 24 2016

A very detailed, and very good, piece in Politico about the ongoing cost problem facing the ACA/Obamacare. Fewer young and healthy people have signed up than anticipated, leaving the average costs higher for everyone else. As a result, insurance companies are losing money, and are raising their prices to try to catch up. Trends like this are concerning that we may be seeing the early stages of a “death spiral,” in which prices continue to rise higher than more and more people are able to afford.

I found this article to cover both the successes and the problems of the ACA in a fair and comprehensive way, and recommend it highly.

“A close look at what’s really keeping the exchanges underwater suggests that some of the problems are self-inflicted wounds by Obama and his administration; others are the handiwork of Republican saboteurs, who undercut the safeguards intended to help companies weather the uncertainty of the new law…None of the problems are insurmountable, but if they aren’t fixed, the law could find itself in a mounting crisis—what observers call a “death spiral”—in which competition vanishes, costs skyrocket, and a dwindling pool of insurers offer policies so expensive that health insurance is as out of reach as it ever was.” Continue reading Health Policy Updates: July 24 2016

Health Policy Updates: June 19 2016

I have written in this space before about how the growth of large health care providers can contribute to the increasing cost of medical care. This week saw another couple of interesting articles on the topic.

The first reported on new evidence to support the emerging consensus that large hospital systems drive up prices as they gain monopoly power. A wave of consolidation in California has been linked to an increase in prices that its hospitals charge.

“Researchers said this gap of nearly $4,000 per patient admission was not due to regional wage differences or hospitals treating sicker patients. Rather, they said California’s two biggest hospital chains, Dignity Health and Sutter Health, had used their market power to win higher rates.” Continue reading Health Policy Updates: June 19 2016

Health Policy Updates: April 24 2016

I saw this in the last issue of National Geographic, and had to include it. This infographic shows the C-section rate across different countries – and demonstrates that in most places, it is way too high.

C-section rates across different countries
C-section rates across different countries

Continue reading Health Policy Updates: April 24 2016

Health Policy Updates: March 26 2016

More research out this week on the ongoing “consolidation wars” between hospitals and insurance companies, with each side trying to grow big enough to gain the upper hand in price bargaining against the other. Though this is a pattern that has been demonstrated many, many times before, new research strengthens previous work showing that hospitals tend to jack up their prices after mergers. Continue reading Health Policy Updates: March 26 2016