Two news items hit the virtual desk this morning; hospitals will lose more than $50 billion this year, and consolidation among hospitals and health systems is continuing, isn’t improving quality, and is increasing health systems’ leverage over payers.
Of course financial problems are the main driver behind consolidation as health systems with stronger balance sheets take over struggling competitors. Physician practices hammered with revenue declines driven by far fewer patient visits, fewer elective surgeries, and more uninsured patients are also being acquired by health systems.
For payers – especially for workers’ comp payers – the balance of power has shifted to providers. With control over many hospitals and thousands of physicians, systems like Sutter Health in California can dictate terms to huge group health buyers.
I find it ironic indeed that the online ads next to the reporting on the consolidation problem in general and Sutter Health in specific include this one. Payers’ ability to control costs in consolidated health care markets is…challenging at best.
What does this mean for you?
If you operate in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kansas and a bunch of other states, your facility costs are going up.