Massachusetts study shows pricier isn’t better: Health Affairs

Filed Under: Costs

Summary: Massachusetts continues to be interesting, not only in prices of health care, but also in other regards. High-price providers still compel attention from regulators, but nothing ever seems to change, as we see in a Health Affairs blog post by David Seltz, David Auerbach, Kate Mills, Marian Wrobel, and Aaron Pervin. “The two highest-priced hospitals in the state, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital (both part of Partners HealthCare System) together accounted for 20 percent of privately-insured births in the state,” the authors write. “C-section rates did not systematically vary between high- and low-priced hospitals, nor did rates of neo-natal injury or obstetrical complications. … Higher hospital relative prices were not generally associated with higher quality or other common measures of value. However, higher prices were associated with hospital system size and affiliation with certain systems, such as the Partners system. Finally, the [state Health Policy Commission] reported that not only has the extensive price variation found by the [attorney general’s office] in 2010 persisted through 2014, but that patient care is also highly concentrated among higher-price hospitals and physician groups. This concentration of care among higher-priced providers has generally increased from 2010 to 2014.” David Seltz, David Auerbach, Kate Mills, Marian Wrobel, and Aaron Pervin, Addressing Price Variation In Massachusetts, Health Affairs.