All healthcare actors must contribute to a system facing 'existential crisis,' report says

Hospitals and health systems are facing an existential crisis and, while such systems must address fundamental issues themselves, other players in the U.S. healthcare industry need to join forces to help them deal with the crisis.

That's according to a report from the Boston Consulting Group, which is projecting a shortfall of more than $200 billion in the industry by 2027 if immediate action isn't taken.

Payers, for example, including government and private players, have to be part of the solution, the report said. Private insurers may be making healthy profits, but government entities such as Medicare, accounting for more than half of the beneficiaries in the U.S., can also play a vital role, for example by providing higher overall reimbursements.

"There can and should be more equitable distribution of private dollars to ensure that hospital closures don't create health care deserts around the country," the report said.

After all, there are vested interests in insurers making sure health systems don't collapse.

"We can't rely on altruism here but there is a real business incentive for payers to do so," Szoa Geng, BCG managing director, said in an interview. "If hospitals fail en masse, their members are going to have less access to care. If you take a long lens to this, we all have to help stabilize the system."

Private equity, too, can improve convenience and access to patients in more consumer-friendly ways than traditional settings.

Firstly, before such concerted alliances in everyone's interests can take place, nonprofit hospitals and health systems have to take a long-term look at the services they provide and not waiver from their core mission, which is to "deliver care, pure and simple." 

But independent cost-cutting, while vital, isn't enough to sustain health systems on their own and help form a sustainable and resilient sector essential to the well-being of patients and communities.

"As we recover from a multiyear pandemic and move through a period of high economic uncertainty, all players in the healthcare ecosystem would benefit from working together toward this worthwhile goal," the report concludes.

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