The WSJ is reporting:
During the 2008 financial crisis, “too big to fail” became a familiar phrase in the U.S. financial system. Now the U.S. health-care system is heading down the same path with a record number of hospital mergers and acquisitions—95 last year—some creating regional monopolies that, as in all monopolies, will likely result in higher prices from decreased competition.
Hospital consolidation, done properly in a competitive marketplace, can have positive effects. Multi-hospital conglomerates can quickly disseminate best practices and quality initiatives, for example. But competition and the choices it provides can also disappear.
Health-care conglomeration aligns with the Affordable Care Act, which created incentives for physicians and hospitals to work together in “accountable care organizations.” But an important and often forgotten prerequisite for this model is hospital competition.
Some see the dangers. In a rare move, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders recently blocked Partners HealthCare—Harvard’s affiliated 10-hospital conglomerate and Massachusetts’ largest private employer—from acquiring three competitor hospitals. Judge Sanders argued that the expansion “would cement Partners’ already strong position in the health-care market and give it the ability, because of this market muscle, to exact higher prices.” This threat is even greater in rural areas where one hospital is often the only provider.
Today’s frenzy of hospital mergers and physician practice acquisitions is giving hospital systems even greater leverage to inflate opaque “charge-master” medical bills that even hospitals are sometimes unable to itemize sensibly. With no mechanism to allow free-market forces to keep prices in check, this translates into higher health-insurance deductibles and copays for insured Americans, and in the case of Medicare and Medicaid, higher taxes.This is not an investment site. Do not make any investment decisions based on what you read here or what you think you may have read here.
To see just how well the health care industry has done under ObamaCare, click here.
Now, The [Europe] Times is reporting:
Greek debt costs leapt yesterday as the French central bank warned that the banking sector in Athens is on the verge of collapse. The euro fell 0.6 per cent to $1.074 after International Monetary Fund and G20 meetings in Washington held out little progress on the prospect of Greece satisfying creditors to unlock €7.2 billion in financial aid by the end of the month.April 30th?