It has not been a good week for US health care.
This week the Senate passed “a health care bill disguised as a tax cut.” The result, argues Sarah Kliff, will be a sweeping change to many parts of the US health care system, starting with (per the CBO) 13 million Americans dropping health insurance coverage.
“First, the bill repeals the individual mandate, a key piece of Obamacare that requires most Americans get covered. Economists expect its elimination to reduce enrollment in both the Affordable Care Act’s private marketplaces and Medicaid by millions. The money saved will be pumped into tax cuts for the very wealthy. The bill also includes tax cuts so large that they would trigger across-the-board spending cuts — including billions for Medicare. The last time Medicare was hit with cuts like this, patients lost access to critical services like chemotherapy treatment.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: December 3, 2017
Vox.com runs down the recent Trump executive order on health care:
“The ultimate impact will depend on any new regulations written as a result of the order, but overall, the Trump administration could make cheaper plans with skimpier benefits more available — and experts worry that will damage the ACA’s marketplaces.”
More on the White House’s efforts to undermine Obamacare in absence of a Congressional repeal bill:
“But Trump administration officials say that with insurance premiums soaring in many states, consumers should be able to buy less comprehensive, less expensive coverage as an alternative to conventional plans…That has some insurance experts worried. The influx of a set of plans exempt from the Affordable Care Act rules will essentially divide the market and make it increasingly unstable, said Rebecca Owen, a health research actuary with the Society of Actuaries.”
The NYTimes is keeping track of all the ways the White House has been sabotaging the health care law.
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: October 15 2017
The September issue of Health Affairs was a special edition, focusing on the topic of health care market concentration in the US. I’ve pointed to the closely related issue of hospital consolidation as one of the biggest drivers of increasing health care costs.
As one of the featured studies in this special issue found, the health care market in the US continues to concentrate, with more and more health systems merging into larger and larger networks. The end result of this is not more efficient care for the patient, but simply higher prices, as these large networks exert their monopoly power:
“Although provider concentration could produce efficiencies that benefit purchasers of health care services, the evidence does not point in that direction. For example, reviews of studies of hospital markets have found that concentrated markets are associated with higher hospital prices, with price increases often exceeding 20 percent when mergers occur in such markets. Of even greater concern, the reviews found that these price increases did not appear to improve quality: In some cases, higher hospital concentration was associated with higher mortality rates.”
Continue reading Health Policy Updates: September 9 2017