Health reformers propose the proliferation of integrated health systems, like the Mayo Clinic or Kaiser Permanente, which, according to the Dartmouth Atlas, lead to better patient care and improved cost control.
To that end, accountable care organizations (ACOs) have been a major part of health reform, changing the way healthcare is delivered. Never mind that patients may not be receptive to the new model, but the creation of these large, integrated physician-hospital entities that progressive policy experts espouse comes with repercussions. Monopoly power.
To prepare for the new model of healthcare delivery, physician practices have been consolidating. In many cases, they’re being bought by hospitals. Last year, I wrote how this is leading to the death of the private practice physician.
But with consolidation comes a tilt in market power. Health insurers, desperate to control costs, are finding it more difficult to negotiate with hospital-physician practices that dominate a market. And patients are going to side with the hospital — insurers that leave out popular doctors and medical facilities face a backlash from patients. Witness the power that Partners Healthcare has in the Boston market that’s mostly driven by patient demand for big-reputation, high-cost Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*