Hospitals really are teaming up to raise prices for managed care plan patients.[@@]
Alison Evans Cuellar, a researcher at Columbia University, and Paul Gertler, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, draw that conclusion in a paper published in the latest edition of Health Affairs.
The researchers found that hospitals that consolidated by joining a health care “system” were more likely to operate in areas with high managed care growth and have high managed care patient loads.
Hospitals in multi-hospital systems had 14% more health maintenance organization and preferred provider organization patients than independent hospitals, and the system hospitals’ HMO/PPO prices were 7.7% higher, the researchers report.
These findings “were consistent with [the system hospitals] having improved their bargaining positions with their plans,” Cuellar and Gertler write.
Although the price increases might be the result of a number of factors, such as improvements in quality, the study results show that the system hospitals also enjoyed a stronger bargaining position, the researchers conclude.