Friday, August 20, 2010

Which hospital mergers eliminate competition?

Nearly 3,000 of the 5800 US hospitals changed owners from 1994 through 2009.  Some were involve in mergers that eliminated competition:
Last November, Claire Zvanski, a San Francisco parking administrator and commissioner of the city-employees’ health insurance fund, proposed dropping Sutter hospitals from the plan offered to the city’s 110,000 workers. Zvanski said she hoped dumping Sutter would cut costs and curb an expected rate increase from Blue Shield.
Her proposal stirred heated protest from plan members at commission meetings, who said they would have to drive 30 miles to find a non-Sutter hospital. Under pressure, Zvanski tabled the idea.
On July 1, the city, to cover rising costs, raised health-care contributions from employees by 13 percent -- to $6,552 a year for a firefighter with two or more dependents. It doubled co-payments to $100 for emergency-room and outpatient services and $200 for hospital stays.
“Sutter really has us over a barrel, I hate to admit it,” said Larry Barsetti, a retired police lieutenant who supported Zvanski’s proposal. His premiums went up $100 on July 1, to $10,188 a year -- more than double what he paid upon retiring in 2003. “We’re getting gouged,” Barsetti said.
Sutter has held price increases to single digits in recent years, Gleeson said. “Still,” he added, “we know we have a responsibility to make sure our services are affordable and we’re working to do so.”

No comments:

Post a Comment