Summary: This is how health care prices rise. The industry has seen a wave of mergers and acquisitions. A high-profile one just took place in Massachusetts, and it’s estimated that it will add $8 million to Massachusetts’ annual health bill because the doctors in the practice, newly acquired by the health giant Partners HealthCare, will bill at higher rates. Click through for an excerpt from the Boston Globe story.
“The state’s largest health system acquired a group of about 70 doctors Wednesday, adding 60,000 patients to its network, despite warnings from the attorney general and health officials that the deal would raise medical costs without benefiting consumers,” Priyanka Dayal McCluskey wrote.
“But Partners HealthCare promised to limit price increases for its new doctors, who make up the practice Harbor Medical Associates, to the rate of inflation for about five years. Partners operates 10 hospitals, including the prestigious Boston teaching hospitals, Massachusetts General, and Brigham and Women’s.
“Partners spokesman Rich Copp said the health system alerted the state’s largest health insurers — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Tufts Health Plan — about its plans on Wednesday.
“ ‘It’s a response to what we’ve heard,’ Copp said. ‘Out of deference to the Health Policy Commission, and because of the concerns that the attorney general has raised, we’ve informed the three largest insurers that we will not request rate increases for Harbor beyond inflation.’
“The Health Policy Commission, a state watchdog agency, said Wednesday that the Harbor deal could add $8 million to medical spending if the Harbor doctors were to be paid at the same rates as Partners doctors. Commissioners also warned of added costs if the Harbor doctors shift referrals to send more patients to higher-cost hospitals owned by Partners.” By Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, via Partners takeover of doctors group will add millions to health costs, state panel says,” The Boston Globe.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.