Countries that spend more on health care often also have a higher life expectancy, though many other factors can contribute to variations across countries. We graphed health care spending and life expectancy for countries competing in the 2014 World Cup Group of 16 to see how these two health indicators played out.
Earlier this month, a federal district court judge in Idaho examined whether a merger between a large hospital system, St. Luke’s, and the state’s largest independent network of doctors would create monopoly conditions. This proposed merger underscores a growing trend in the health care industry: because it’s easier and more cost effective to coordinate patient care when hospitals, specialists, and primary care doctors are part of one unified system that is financially and clinically integrated, we’re seeing more hospital and provider groups merging.
In this first installment of our “Two Takes” column occasional series, two of our experts who come from different perspectives—Caitlin Morris, who focuses on health system improvement, and Claire McAndrew, who focuses on private insurance reform and consumer protections—take on the tough questions surrounding this issue. How can we stop the unsustainable growth in health care costs if we allow consumers to continue receiving care from providers who don’t deliver good value? And on the other hand, how can we ensure that consumers can obtain adequate, timely, geographically accessible care if we further restrict their networks?
A recent, high-profile hospital acquisition in Massachusetts has sparked new debate about the continued trend toward consolidation among U.S. hospitals. Boston-based Partners HealthCare, already the largest health provider system in the state, made a bid earlier this year to acquire South Shore Hospital and its affiliated physician groups. An analysis of the proposed acquisition by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission found that the merger could result in reduced market competition in the affected areas, leading to an increase in hospital charges of an estimated $23-26 million.
For today’s health care consumers, the lack of side-by-side information on the price and quality of health care services can be exasperating. Without this information, making an informed decision about which provider to choose for a particular service—such as a surgery, screening, or care for an illness—can be nearly impossible. Providing this information up front is an important step toward the goal of creating a health care system that provides higher-quality health care while controlling costs.
Today, we’re kicking off an occasional series of posts about the State Innovation Models (SIM) Initiative. Over the coming months, we’ll use the SIM Initiative to explore how states are engaging in innovative reforms geared at improving the quality and delivery of care and reducing costs.
In this first post, we’ll provide a brief backgrounder on the initiative. In future posts we’ll delve into what’s happening on the ground, talk to health care stakeholders about how SIM is playing out in their states, highlight best practices, and flag key issues for advocates.
Although the Affordable Care Act now offers individuals greatly expanded access to health coverage, simply having an insurance card does not guarantee access to high-quality health care.
Reference Pricing Programs Need to Follow Key Guidelines to Ensure That They Don’t Shift Costs to Consumers
Recent news articles have highlighted how some employer-based health plans have started to set dollar caps on what they will pay for certain health care services. If a consumer goes to a provider that charges more than the cap for that type of care, he or she must pay the difference. This strategy is called reference pricing.
Reference pricing is meant to encourage consumers to shop for the best care at the best price, and it even has the potential to pressure some expensive providers to set more competitive prices.
Find out how health care data can be used to measure and improve the quality of health care that patients receive.
Proposed New Quality Rating Systems Will Allow Consumers to Rate Health Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplaces
Consumers will soon have a powerful new tool that allows them to use data to measure the quality of different health plans offered in their state’s health insurance marketplace. This tool is based on the new Quality Rating System (QRS) proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It is a notable step forward in the adoption of employing consumer-friendly data transparency practices to help individuals make data-driven, informed decisions about their health care choices.