Just So Will Healthcare Fall
It amazes me that we can watch these things, which should have been entirely foreseeable, and never return to our initial premises:
Some of the big-name Boston teaching hospitals that have managed to extract higher insurance payments include Children’s Hospital and the members of Partners HealthCare, a group including Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s. As a result, they may be paid two or three times more than a community hospital for the same procedure. …
In addition to helping raise the average Massachusetts family’s premiums by 78 percent since 2000, the 800-pound-gorilla hospitals are using their enhanced profits to expand into the suburbs and take business from smaller hospitals. For example, Partners has built a $43 million outpatient clinic in Foxboro, not far from Caritas Norwood Hospital. The objective is to drain day-surgery patients from Caritas, which because of its lower insurance reimbursements, is $4 million in debt. Caritas asserts that were it paid the same rate for delivering babies as the Partners hospitals, it would have lost no money in the third quarter.
Ensure funding for anything, and prices will go up. Increase the distance between the customer and the payment, and advantaged suppliers and middlemen will leverage their power for even greater dominance. And then comes the predictable reaction:
In response to these revelations, Governor Patrick has proposed having state insurance regulators stop excessive premiums. And he has convened a panel to embark on cost-containment steps in Massachusetts, something that is long overdue.
So now prices will ultimately be determined by a government whose interest is more directly in the payments than the service provided, conducted by a panel whose power is appointed, overseen by politicians whose underlying job is to raise money and be reelected.
What do you suppose will happen next?