By Brent D. Fulton | Published September 2017 in Health Affairs | Link to Full Article
This paper analyzes market concentration trends in the United States from 2010 to 2016 for hospitals, physician organizations, and health insurers, finding that hospital and physician organization markets became increasingly concentrated over this time period. Concentration among primary care physicians increased the most, partially because hospitals and health care systems acquired primary care physician organizations. The paper finds that a large number of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are highly concentrated – in 2016, reaching 91% for hospitals, 65% for specialist physicians, 39% for primary care physicians, and 57% for insurers. The paper concludes that public policies that enhance competition are needed, such as stricter enforcement of antitrust laws, reducing barriers to entry, and restricting anticompetitive behaviors.
By Richard M. Scheffler and Daniel R. Arnold | Published September 2017 in Health Affairs | Link to Full Article
Consolidation of health systems has rapidly increased in the last two decades: from 1998 to 2015, there were 1412 hospital mergers in the United States; 40% of those came after 2009. The paper uses prices of hospital admissions and visits to five types of physicians to analyze how this growing provider and insurer market concentration—as measured by the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI)—interact and are correlated with prices. The paper finds that insurers have the bargaining power to reduce provider prices in highly concentrated provider markets for cardiologist, radiologist, and hematologist/oncologist visit prices. This leads to a policy dilemma: there are no insurer market mechanisms that will pass a portion of these price reductions on to consumers in the form of lower premiums. The study concludes by discussing how large purchasers of health insurance, such as state and federal governments, as well as the use of regulatory approaches, could provide a solution.
By Jon R. Gabel, Daniel R. Arnold, Brent D. Fulton, Sam T. Stromberg, Matthew Green, Heidi Whitmore, and Richard M. Scheffler | Published January 2017 in Health Affairs | Link to Full Article
With the notable exception of California, states have not made enrollment data for their Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace plans publicly available. Researchers thus have tracked premium trends by calculating changes in the average price for plans offered (a straight average across plans) rather than for plans purchased (a weighted average). Using publicly available enrollment data for Covered California, we found that the average purchased price for all plans was 11.6 percent less than the average offered price in 2014, 13.2 percent less in 2015, and 15.2 percent less in 2016. Premium growth measured by plans purchased was roughly 2 percentage points less than when measured by plans offered in 2014–15 and 2015–16. We observed shifts in consumer choices toward less costly plans, both between and within tiers, and we estimate that a $100 increase in a plan’s net annual premium reduces its probability of selection. These findings suggest that the Marketplaces are helping consumers moderate premium cost growth.
Edited by Richard M. Scheffler, Christopher H. Herbst, Christophe Lemiere, and Jim Campbell | Published September 2016 by the Word Bank Group | Link to Full Book
The health workforce has received major policy attention over the past decade, driven in part by the need to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and universal health coverage (UHC). There is wide acceptance that a health workforce sufficient in numbers, adequately distributed, and well performing is a central health systems input, and critical for the achievements of these goals. This book, produced by the World Bank in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley and the World Health Organization (WHO), aims to provide decision makers at subnational, national, regional, and global levels with additional insights into how to better understand and address their health workforce challenges rather than just describe them.
By Richard M. Scheffler, Daniel R. Arnold, Brent D. Fulton, and Sherry A. Glied | Published May 2016 in Health Affairs | Link to Full Article
Recent increases in market concentration among health plans, hospitals, and medical groups raise questions about what impact such mergers are having on costs to consumers. We examined the impact of market concentration on the growth of health insurance premiums between 2014 and 2015 in two Affordable Care Act state-based Marketplaces: Covered California and NY State of Health. We measured health plan, hospital, and medical group market concentration using the well-known Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) and used a multivariate regression model to relate these measures to premium growth. Both states exhibited a positive association between hospital concentration and premium growth and a positive (but not statistically significant) association between medical group concentration and premium growth. Our results for health plan concentration differed between the two states: it was positively associated with premium growth in New York but negatively associated with premium growth in California. The health plan concentration finding in Covered California may be the result of its selectively contracting with health plans.
By Richard M. Scheffler and Sherry A. Glied | Published May 2016 in the New York Times | Link to Op-Ed
In this op-ed, Sheffler and Glied discuss the increasing concentrated health insurance market in the wake of the Affordable Health Care Act, and the need for competition and regulation to work together to benefit consumers. The two report on research comparing how the states of California and New York designed their healthcare marketplaces in response to the law, and the flexibility states have in designing their marketplaces.
Edited by Richard M. Scheffler | Published January 2016 by World Scientific | Link to Full Book
This Handbook covers major topics in global health economics and public policy and provides a timely, systematic review of the field, featuring academics and practitioners from more than a dozen countries. The Handbook spans across three volumes: Volume 1 – The Economics of Health and Health Systems, Volume 2 – Health Determinants and Outcomes, Volume 3 – Health System Characteristics and Performance. Chapters deal with key global issues in health economics, are evidence-based, and offer innovative policy alternatives and solutions, making the Handbook’s approach toward global health economics and public policy a useful resource for health economists, policymakers, private sector companies, NGOs, government decision-makers and those who manage healthcare systems.
By Eric R. Kessell, Richard M. Scheffler, and Stephen M. Shortell | Pubished in November 2015 in the Journal of Palliative Medicine | Link to Full Article
Community-based palliative care can improve outcomes and avoid unnecessary spending, but the effects of its widespread adoption on health care spending in California is unknown. To estimate the spending avoided if, by 2022, more than 100,000 Californians received community-based palliative care (CBPC) per year. We estimated the 6-month per-patient spending avoided through three mature CBPC programs in California and extrapolated data to predict the total avoided spending statewide over 8 years if enrollment in the three programs proceeded according to our model. If Californians participated in CBPC in the numbers envisioned, in 2014 there would have been a $72 million reduction in intensive hospital-based care, while still respecting patients’ wishes, and nearly $1.1 billion in spending could be avoided in 2022. Overall hospital spending would be reduced by more than $5.5 billion through 2022. The paper concludes that existing CBPC programs have the potential to provide care that is both in alignment with patients’ wishes and avoids substantial amounts of unnecessary hospital-based spending.
By Richard M. Scheffler, Eric R. Kessell and Margareta Brandt | Published in October 2015 in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law | Link to Full Article
We explain the establishment of Covered California, California’s health insurance marketplace. We describe the market shares of health plans in California and in each of the nineteen rating regions. We examine the empirical relationships among measures of provider market concentration, health plans, and the variation in premiums across the rating regions. We found that the concentration of medical groups and hospitals was positively associated with the variation in Covered California premium rates in the rating regions while the concentration of health plans is not statistically significant. We estimate the impact of reducing hospital concentration to levels that would exist in moderately competitive markets. This produces a predicted overall premium reduction of more than 2 percent. However, in three of the nineteen rating regions, the predicted premium reduction was more than 10 percent. These results suggest the importance of provider market concentration on premiums.
By Ann Hollingshead, Jaime King, Brent D. Fulton, Joshua Rushakoff, Richard M. Scheffler | Published May 2015 by the Millbank Memorial Fund | Link to Full Report
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), originally developed as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are growing—and serve both public and private sector payers. They have the potential to improve health care quality and patient outcomes while achieving cost savings. However, they may also present risks—including those related to solvency, consumer protection, and anti-competitive pricing—to providers, patients, and payers. This report draws on evidence from the literature and four case studies to outline tools that state governments can use to promote the potential benefits of ACOs while mitigating their potential risks.