Final week I reviewed an article on a number of the potential positives and negatives of enormous, built-in well being programs. A latest 60 Minutes episode talks about a number of the perils by inspecting how Sutter well being system has grow to be a close to monopoly supplier in Northern California. Contemplate the next interplay between Leslie Stahl of 60 minutes and Glenn Melnick, a well being economist at USC.
Glenn Melnick: …[Sutter Health] have monopoly powers in a variety of these counties, proper? And their costs went up. The following yr, they went up even quicker. And so they discovered, “Wow, this actually works!”
Lesley Stahl: You may take a look at that and say, “That’s monopolistic.” Another person may take a look at it and say, “Wow, that’s sensible enterprise. That’s- that’s actually intelligent. Good for them!”
Glenn Melnick: If Sutter is ready to elevate their costs by enhancing high quality, worth, and repair, that’s tremendous. What they got here up with is a mannequin that allowed them to amass market energy, and get larger costs with out doing any of these good issues for shoppers.
Within the lawsuit, proof confirmed that Sutter’s high quality of care, whereas well-regarded, was usually akin to different hospitals in California, and that its larger costs have been contagious.
Glenn Melnick: So we known as it the “Sutter impact,” the place you probably have a big, dominant system like this, they elevate their costs excessive, all their rivals can elevate their costs larger. So there’s sort of this second-order impact: that any such habits results in a lot larger costs throughout the board.
One key subject is an absence of value transparency, a problem that has been well-known in well being care for a few years. Hilary Ronen–a Metropolis Councilwomen in San Francisco (and my spouse’s cousin!) laments this lack of transparency
A purpose their well being prices have been so excessive, she says, is as a result of Sutter was in a position to block town and its insurer, Blue Defend of California, from steering staff to hospitals with decrease costs. And it was in a position to forestall Blue Defend from telling town what Sutter’s hospitals would cost for particular person procedures.
Hillary Ronen: Sutter gained’t enable us to see how a lot they cost for his or her providers. It– it’s unbelievable. And so we will’t comparability store. And so they maintain naming their value, and I really feel like I’m handcuffed to do something about it.
Lesley Stahl: The insurance coverage firm, Blue Defend?
Hillary Ronen: Sure.
Whereas the Sutter case makes a great story, the elevated supplier consolidation is going on throughout the nation. Elizabeth Mitchell, the CEO of Pacific Enterprise Group on Well being, notes this pattern is nationwide. Additional, hospital costs are the important thing driver of well being care spending.
Elizabeth Mitchell: That is taking place in Maine. It’s taking place in Texas. It’s taking place throughout the nation, the biggest well being programs are shopping for up every part.
Lesley Stahl: Do you suppose that that is the primary purpose that well being prices are going up?
Elizabeth Mitchell: We have now seen the info. It’s the largest driver of well being care price will increase. It’s hospital costs. And so they’re not offering extra providers. And the standard isn’t rising. They’re simply charging extra for a similar factor. It’s simply the costs. And so they do it as a result of they’ll.
Watch the total episode right here.